What would an anti-capitalist revolution actually look like, if it happened?
That is the question that must be going through many an anarchist’s mind as current events unfold in France.
The Gilets Jaunes or Yellow Vest movement has staged four successive Saturdays of startling and energetic mass mobilisations across France against the neoliberal Macron regime, turning a protest against the cost of living into an attempted insurrection.
On Saturday December 8 there were more than a thousand arrests as crowds occupied central Paris and caused general havoc from Toulouse to Bordeaux, Nantes to Marseilles. The protests even spread to Brussels in Belgium.
Another huge day of action is planned for Saturday December 15, which is being billed as Act V of the show, in which neoliberal President Macron finally resigns!
Meanwhile, France’s capitalists are complaining that the protests have already cost them a billion euros of lost consumer profits in the run-up to Christmas.
On the face of it, this is every radical’s dream. Thousands of people are taking to the streets, blocking roads, setting up burning barricades, resisting the state’s robocops with their tear gas, water cannon and armoured cars.
The movement has so far bypassed all the usual organised structures of trade unions and political parties, which is no doubt why it has been able to maintain its momentum.
All sorts of people have jumped aboard, of all ages, and although they don’t necessarily speak a finely-honed ideological language, the mood is clearly anti-capitalist and anti-hierarchical.
This is an anti-capitalism which has been learned from real life, from being constantly trampled under the boot of exploitation, rather than from the pages of a left-wing textbook.
Blocking their way to actually bringing down the system is, of course, the huge power of the system itself.
This can be seen physically, in the enormous numbers of police on the streets and the violence which they have obviously been authorised to inflict on protesters.
French “democracy” is just as much a sham as UK or US “democracy” and those in power will do anything necessary to keep hold of it.
The French authorities have already threatened to shoot live rounds at protesters, if need be, and you would have to be very naive to think they do not mean it.
Having said that, the state knows it could not hold down the whole population across the country if they rose up with sufficient energy at the same time.
The system also has an enormous power of propaganda, of controlling the narrative. The French public are constantly told that the rebellion is petering out, that it has been hijacked by extremists (far-right or far-left, depending on the target audience), that it has descended into sheer vandalism.
The international public are told that the movement is just about fuel prices, or that it is dangerously “populist”, or that, absurdly, it has all been staged by the Russians!
Happily, more and more people in France are seeing through all this and understanding their Fifth Republic for what it is – yet another scowling capitalist tyranny hiding behind a smiley mask of “democracy”.
There has also been a heartening response from radicals in France and beyond. After an initial scepticism about the nature of the Gilets Jaunes (which we shared), the vast majority on the revolutionary left have decided that the protest movement needs to be actively supported and its reactionary elements challenged from within.
This makes a refreshing change from the buckets of cold ideological sick all too often thrown over anyone whose revolt does not conform with a very specific set of principles and speaks of a new maturity and determination which bodes well for the future of anti-capitalist struggles.
There will, we suppose, still be those on the liberal fringes of anarchism and leftism who treat the popular uprising in France with disdain.
Maybe it is time for these pseudo-leftists to come clean and admit that they are not actually in favour of revolution at all, but are simply using the rhetoric of resistance to bring about some small liberalising tweaks to the status quo?
Maybe it is time for them to slink silently back indoors into the soul-sapping sterility of their politically-pure “safe spaces” and let the filthy, raucous, uncontrollable mob in the streets storm and burn down the corrupt citadels of power?
Things are rapidly hotting up in France. The Gilets Jaunes or Yellow Vests movement, which started as a protest of hard-up working people against spiralling petrol prices, has transformed itself into a full-on uprising against the neoliberal regime of President Emmanuel Macron.
Contrary to all that we’ve been hearing, the mystery is not that we are rising up but that we haven’t done so before. The abnormality isn’t in what we are doing now, but in what we have put up with so far. Who can deny that the system has failed on all accounts? Who still wants to be fleeced, robbed, reduced to precarity for nothing? Who is going to shed any tears over the fact that posh areas of Paris are being looted by the poor or that the bourgeoisie have seen their shiny new 4X4s go up in flames? As for Macron, he should stop complaining since it was him that suggested we come and see him. A State cannot claim to draw legitimacy from the corpse of a “glorious revolution” only to moan about vandalism when a revolution gets underway.
The situation is simple: the people want the system to fall. The system intends keeping going. This defines the situation as insurrectional, as the police themselves are now admitting. The people have numbers, courage, joy, intelligence and naivety. The state has the army, the police, the media, cunning and the fears of the bourgeoisie. Since November 17, the people have used two complementary levers: blocking the economy and the assault carried out every Saturday against the administrative centre of Paris. These levers are complementary because the economy is the reality of the system, while the government is the symbolic representation. To really bring the system down, both of these must be attacked. This applies to Paris as to the rest of the country: setting fire to a local préfecture and marching on the centre of power are one and the same gesture.
Every Saturday since November 17 in Paris, the people have been magnetized by the same objective: marching on the government’s inner sanctuaries. From Saturday to Saturday the difference consists firstly of the enormous increase in the police numbers deployed to prevent the march and secondly the accumulation of experience from the failure of the previous Saturday. If there were lots more people wearing swimming goggles and gas masks this Saturday, it was not because “groups of organised thugs” had “infiltrated the demo” but simply because the people had been extensively gassed the previous week and drew from that the conclusions that anyone with any sense would have drawn: come equipped next time around. In any case, this is not about a demonstration but an uprising.
If tens of thousands of people invaded the central Parisian area of Tuileries-Saint Lazare-Étoile-Trocadéro, it wasn’t because of a strategy of harassment decided by certain groups but because of people’s collective tactical intelligence in the face of the police deployment stopping them from reaching their goal. Blaming the “ultra-left” for this attempted uprising doesn’t fool anyone: if the ultra-left had been capable of driving construction machinery to charge the police lines or destroy motorway toll booths, we would have known about it; if it had been so numerous, so likeable, so courageous, we would have known about it. With its essentially identity-based concerns, this “ultra-left” is deeply embarrassed by the impurity of the gilets jaunes movement; the truth is that it doesn’t know which way to turn, that it has a bourgeois-like fear of compromising itself by mingling with this crowd that doesn’t in with any of its categories.
As for the “ultra-right” it has been sandwiched between its supposed means and ends: it promotes disorder while claiming to want order, it throws stones at the national police while declaring its love for the police and the nation, it wants to cut off the head of the republican monarch through love of a non-existent king. On all these matters, we are going to leave the Minister of the Interior to his ridiculous ravings. It isn’t the radicals who make the movement, it’s the movement that radicalises people. Who could believe that they are thinking about imposing a state of emergency against a handful of hooligans?
Those who do insurrections by half are only digging their own graves. At the point we are at, with today’s means of repression, either we topple the system or it will crush us. It would be a serious error of judgement to underestimate this government’s level of radicalisation. Anyone who sets themselves up, in the days ahead, as a mediator between the people and the government will be torn to pieces: nobody wants to be represented any more, we are all big enough to speak for ourselves, to notice who is trying to us calm us down, who is trying to recuperate us. And even if the government takes a step backwards, it will only be proving that we are right to have done what we have done, that our methods are the right ones.
Next week will therefore be decisive: either even more of us manage to stop the economic machine by blocking ports, refineries, stations, distribution centres etc, by really taking the government’s inner sanctuaries and its regional offices next Saturday, or we are lost. Next Saturday, the marches for the climate, which start from the principle that those who led us into this catastrophe aren’t going to get us out of it, have no reason not to join us in the streets. We are a hair’s breadth away from the breakdown of the machinery of government. Either we succeed in the coming months to bring about the necessary change of course, or the coming apocalypse will be twice as heavy, with a clamp-down on a scale scarcely hinted at so far on social media.
The question is therefore: what does it actually mean to bring down the system? It is clear that it doesn’t mean electing new representatives because the failure of the current régime is also the failure of the system of representation. Bringing down the system means taking over locally, community by community, the entire physical and symbolic organisation of life, for it is precisely the current organisation of life that is in question, that is itself the catastrophe.
We mustn’t be afraid of the unknown: millions of people have never been seen to let themselves die of starvation. Just as we are all capable of organising ourselves horizontally to block roads, so we are capable of organising ourselves for a more sensible way of living. Just as it is locally that the revolt is being organised; so it is locally that the solutions will be found. The “national” level is only the echo of local initiatives.
We are fed up with having to count every penny. The rule of the economy is the rule of misery because it is the rule of calculation. What is beautiful on the road blocks, in the streets, in everything we have been doing these past three weeks, and which means that in a way we have already won, is that we have stopped counting because we have started to count on each other. When the issue is one of communal salvation, the question of the legal ownership of life’s infrastucture becomes a detail. The difference between the people and those who govern them is that the people aren’t a bunch of wankers.
1. Rebelling against the industrial capitalist system
Is the human species finally waking up to the fact that industrial capitalism is murdering the planet and realising that we all have to take action to stop it?
The signs are currently looking good in England, where the Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement has appeared out of nowhere and mobilised thousands of people to block streets and engage in civil disobedience.
The first big day of action was on Saturday November 17, when some 6,000 people took to the streets of London.
They blocked five London bridges and planted trees on Parliament Square. More than 80 people were arrested.
Said Gail Bradbrook of XR: “This is an act of mass civil disobedience. This is the start of an international rebellion protesting the lack of action on the ecological crisis”.
There were swarming road blocks across London in the run-up to Rebellion Day 2, announced for Saturday November 24, 10am to 5pm at Parliament Square.
The Rebellion has also started to take off elsewhere, such as Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland.
Some question marks have been raised in anti-capitalist circles about the XR approach. For a start, the enthusiastic participation of pseudo-radical Guardian columnist George Monbiot, who too often mirrors his employers’ anti-left neoliberalism (see the Media Lens archives), has set alarm bells ringing.
A strangely deferential attitude to the police has also worried many. In an article in The Canary, Emily Apple highlighted a failure in XR circles to critique the fundamental relationship between the police, the state and corporations, pointing out: “Ultimately, the police are there to protect the interests of the state”.
She added: “It is our duty to rebel. But effective rebellion will mean facing the full force and the full power of the state, and being prepared for the consequences.
“No amount of statements of non-violence will stop the police going in with full force if what you’re doing is a threat to the state or corporate profit. It won’t stop fundamental police tactics of harassment and disruption; tactics designed to deliberately deter people from protesting”.
However, most would applaud the way XR has achieved what seemed impossible and ignited a whole new wave of public protest against industrial capitalism.
If you believe in a full diversity of tactics, then you have to wish them well and hope that their misguided faith in the intentions of the UK’s police does not end with too many baton-bludgeoned limbs and skulls, when the corporate-owned state decides that XR’s disruptive tactics have gone far enough.
Another encouraging sign of a change in consciousness is the publication by the UK’s Anarchist Federation of a booklet (available online) called Capitalism Is Killing the Earth: An Anarchist Guide to Ecology.
The booklet rightly notes: “There has been wider understanding of environmental issues since mainstream publications such as Silent Spring, Gaia and An Inconvenient Truth; however, an anti-capitalist critique has been lacking”.
The aim of anarchists should therefore be to “make the link between capitalism and environmental degradation explicit in our politics and critique the role of the state in facilitating this”.
It tackles the issue of false solutions to the environmental meltdown, observing that most proposals for change do not question the overarching system of capitalism and the market economy: “The existence of private property, the appropriation of nature as a source of growth and production for profit instead of need are at the root of the problem, so they cannot be part of the solution”.
It was not clear to us, though, what is intended by the reference to a “primitivist” alternative society preventing people from “maintaining or increasing their standard of living”.
For the industrial capitalist mindset, “standard of living” is all about having a car and a dishwasher, flying abroad on holiday and fully participating in the capitalist economy. It is about buying and consuming.
Presumably the authors agree that a genuinely high “standard of living” would involve living freely in a community of equals, sharing the produce of the earth, breathing fresh air, eating uncontaminated food, waking each morning to the sound of birdsong or children’s laughter rather than of low-flying aircraft or the motorway at the end of the street.
The booklet says anarchists should “work more closely with groups such as Earth First!, Reclaim the Power and Rising Tide to further develop an activism which is both confrontational towards capitalism and is inclusive of local and global perspectives”.
We agree. A full convergence of anti-capitalism and anti-industrialism is long overdue. Industrialism and capitalism are not two separate phenomena but two aspects of the same thing.
Whether you first notice its existence from an environmental perspective or from a social one, industrial capitalism is readily identifiable as the enemy.
It is the enslaver of humanity, the stealer of land, the destroyer of community and, unless we can quickly drive a stake through its malignant heart, the murderer of our planet.
2. “At the heart of this problem lies our sense of separation from nature”
In-depth interview with campaigner Geraldine of frackfree_eu
Thanks for agreeing to this interview. Could you tell us a little bit about who you are and what sort of campaigning you are involved in?
I grew up in a rural area. In some respects, I guess I kind of grew up in a bubble, not necessarily privileged, far from it in financial terms, but certainly sheltered from any social or environmental problems.
From a young age, I cared deeply about the environment, but I’d never engaged in any activism as such. I used to receive newsletters from the World Wildlife Fund, and feel concerned about all the animals whose habitats were endangered by deforestation, orangutans and koalas especially.
I was so concerned about deforestation, in fact, that I once replied to exam questions in tiny writing in order to save paper, drawing attention to the fact that trees are chopped down to make the paper. The teacher was outraged by my act, insisted I apologise, but I refused, so she put me on detention.
It wasn’t too bothered. Standing up for what’s right is something to be proud of and I wasn’t going to obey authority whose demands conflicted with my values. I always had a bit of a rebellious streak.
How I got into campaigning… My academic background is in languages. Throughout my studies, I’d never been involved in anything remotely political. It was only when doing a Masters in European Studies that I had my eyes opened to injustices I’d previously been unaware of – such as racism, the Israel / Palestine conflict, austerity. None of these issues made me angry enough to drop everything, though.
Then, in early 2011, I first became aware of fracking while in France with my boyfriend on a business trip, watching politicians on French TV engaged in a fiery debate about how it could contaminate the water.
The French term ‘gaz de schiste’ sounded less scary than the English equivalent ‘fracking’, so after a cursory look in the dictionary which translated ‘gaz de schiste’ as ‘shale gas’ I thought no more of it and just carried on focusing on my studies.
Little did I know at the time that the same technique was being proposed all across Europe and that France was to become the first country to ban it. It actually took me about six months to revisit the issue, after hearing news of earthquakes in Blackpool and seeing a documentary with French MEP José Bové at a fracking site somewhere in Poland.
Once I began ‘googling’ the term ‘fracking’, I was horrified. Then I learned that parts of Ireland were under threat too. Never in my life have I felt so incensed.
My first thought was: How could our government even consider giving permission to an industry that industrialises vast swathes of countryside and that has left a toll of death and destruction in every community where it has gained a foothold?
I’d never held politicians in much esteem anyway, feeling the system was designed to serve the better-off and those of us at the bottom rungs of the social ladder just have to work hard for everything and not rely on the state for help. As for voting, I’d only voted at one election as I felt elections were a farce.
Despite all this, it still took me aback at how Government can allow policies to be dictated by the interests of big business. What stunned me in particular is how these corporations fabricate lies in order to get what they want, repeating this mantra of jobs and growth as if nothing else mattered.
That the truth, the facts, the science, could be obscured for the sake of profit and self-interest ignited a fire in me like never before.
It was time for me to move beyond my comfort zone, beyond my material world and devote myself wholeheartedly to the cause by attending events and speaking out at them, working with people I’d never have imagined working with before, mobilising others to take action, organising events, travelling to places I’d never been – but ultimately sharing the truth about what fracking involves and how much suffering and harm it causes to every living being. Nowhere deserves to become a sacrifice zone, least of all the country where I grew up and love.
Just focusing on fracking for the moment, what do you think there is about it in particular – compared to mining, for instance, or other forms of industrialisation – that has triggered such a strong response in you, and in so many others who were not previously engaged in this kind of struggle?
Excellent and thought-provoking question! I’d be equally outraged about mining, though it is nowhere near as dangerous as fracking, to be honest, and have replied to consultations objecting to mining projects proposed in my country.
At the moment, communities in Northern Ireland, some of whom were previously licensed for fracking, are having to fight several mining projects. And at the height of the Romanian anti-fracking campaign, I remember meeting Romanians who were also involved in the campaign to save Rosia Montana from gold mining.
Anyone who opposes the raping and plundering of the land through fracking should also oppose mining or any industrial practice. Not to do so would be inconsistent, as all these practices pollute the air and water we all need to survive.
To answer your question properly, firstly, I think the term ‘fracking’ itself makes you sit up, encouraging you to delve deeper into the issue.
‘Shale gas’ on the other hand – as I experienced myself when I looked it up in the dictionary – tends to sound harmless, leaving you thinking, “Well, we need gas to heat our homes, don’t we?!” This is why the term ‘shale gas’ is preferred by the fracking industry, I believe.
And although ‘fracking’ may not have the same resonance in other languages, the documentary ‘Gasland’ by US filmmaker Josh Fox did much to popularise the term in non-English speaking countries, with translations into French, Romanian and Polish, and other languages too perhaps.
Secondly, I think the scale of what was being proposed across vast swathes of land, merely because of the geology, impacts thousands of communities. No other industry, in recent history at least, has impacted this many rural communities and no other industry has prompted so many places to enact bans and moratoria as a result of fierce grassroots opposition either.
Biologist Dr Sandra Steingraber and report co-author of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (Unconventional Gas and Oil Extraction) has called fracking “the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”
Having spent countless hours exploring fracking, I also believe that the impacts are far more severe than those associated with any other industrial process.
We have been fortunate to have had many experts – including Dr Steingraber, toxins expert Dr Marianne Lloyd-Smith, lawyer Helen Slottje, former oil and gas employee Jessica Ernst, as well as others who have seen fracking up close – come to Europe, warning us to fight with all our might.
And for good reason, because this industry has killed and harmed so many, from workers who have lost their lives in well blowouts or contracted cancers because of exposure to the toxic chemicals fracking uses and the NORM radiation the fracking process brings up – so well detailed by the late Dr Theo Colborn – to residents, children included, living in the gasfields suffering from severe neurological diseases caused by the toxic air pollution.
You also have suicides. The late George Bender, an Australian farmer, who was bullied for years by the fracking industry, ended up taking his own life a couple of years ago.
Then you have all the fish that have died because of fracking waste dumped in waterways and livestock that have suffered stillbirths. As Queensland gasfield refugee Brian Monk says, “You don’t live in gasfield. You die in one.”
Thirdly, I think fracking has raised the ire of so many because there is absolutely no need for it. The industry loves to tout energy security as an argument, but this is a complete red herring.
The reality is that fracking requires more energy than it creates – about five times more – and removes enormous quantities of our most precious resource, water, from the hydrological cycle forever.
There is also a global glut of gas, and gas demand across the EU has been falling steadily in recent years. So there can be no justification whatsoever for fracking.
Mining for raw materials, on the other hand, may be seen as justified by some. I mean, how many of us are willing to radically change our lifestyles so all the stuff relying on mining doesn’t need to be produced in the first place?
Try suggesting to people that they can and should live without a mobile phone (those of us who grew up without one survived perfectly well!) tends to provoke angry reactions.
Fourthly, the anti-fracking movement – largely grassroots and volunteer-based in nature – has done quite a good job of communicating the issue. Communication is crucial in mobilising people to take action. So often I see other struggles, equally worthy, being poorly communicated.
I think what’s important is that the communication is driven by local communities as much as possible. The corporate media loves to marginalise anti-fracking campaigners, portraying us as ‘environmentalists’, ‘green campaigners’, or worse ‘hippies’ and ‘treehuggers’.
In doing so, they give the impression that fracking is a fringe issue not worthy of everyone’s concern, when the complete opposite is true. In reality, the movement is made up of people from every background imaginable, from farmers and small business people to doctors and engineers.
Having communications driven by locals means you are able to capture all the cultural sensitivities too.
Framing our campaign as a struggle against corporate power and corporate-captured governments with ordinary people rising up against the odds also gets more people on board, in my experience. Again, unsurprisingly, the corporate media rarely frames our story this way.
Lastly, you definitely have a wider movement which vilifies the fossil fuel industry, and rightly so, because it exerts so much power over our governments. Other extractivist struggles, on the other hand, tend not to spark as much outrage, I feel.
Perhaps this is because any questioning of the capitalist system, and industrial civilisation as a whole, threatens so many depending on the system, especially NGOs who have far greater resources than grassroots groups to communicate environmental issues.
Shortly after I began researching fracking, I came across a book called ‘The Moneyless Man’ by Mark Boyle. Reading it led me to question industrial civilisation as a whole, so for me, fracking has always been just one part of a systemic problem.
At the heart of this problem lies our sense of separation from nature, a sense that we humans are in control of the earth’s resources and that we have the right to exploit them how we wish, oblivious to the fact that in doing so we are also destroying our only life-support system.
Living with less and challenging the system fuelling this greed and separation from nature has now become the focus of my efforts as a result of learning about fracking and wider environmental struggles.
What do you see as the main obstacles between the human species and a healthier, nature-connected future?
So much to say, but for me three obstacles in particular stand out: materialism, trust in authority and hope. Apologies in advance for what is going to be a lengthy reply.
– Materialism vs spirituality
First and foremost, I believe we need to abandon our material selves. For too long, we have seen ourselves as separate from nature, rather than a part of it. How can we forge a deep connection with nature, realising that all life is sacred, unless we are willing to strip ourselves of material belongings?
In becoming less materially-focused and more spiritual beings, we become less willing to destroy our life-support system, in my experience, as we feel a deeper attachment to nature.
How much do we really need to survive anyway? When you think about it carefully, very little. The only things I need to survive are a roof over my head and enough food.
Since discovering how earth’s precious resources are being raped and plundered and reading Mark Boyle’s book, a must-read for anyone who cares about the environment, I rarely buy anything I don’t need.
Each time I look at things now, I feel a sense of disgust even, wondering where the resources came from to make an item, what environments were polluted, if any slave labour or oppression was involved in its production, and so on.
I’ve also developed a repulsion towards money, choosing to work just enough to ensure my survival. What I’ve learned now is what you need more than anything in life are strong relationships.
Too often I see those involved in environmental struggles –- especially in anglophone countries – advocating renewable forms of energy which also involve destroying nature. I find this strange.
Perhaps it is this focus on reducing carbon emissions, rather than a focus on protecting the sacred, protecting all life? Perhaps many are still trapped in the materialist mindset?
The cosmovision shared by Indigenous communities tells us that we are interdependent with one another, that harming any natural resource is harming ourselves. This is the vision I share too, because on a planet of finite resources only a radical shift in our way of thinking, away from the disconnected view of humans as separate from (and often as dominant over) nature, can lead to the profound changes we need to see.
As Babe actor and anti-fracking activist James Cromwell put it succinctly in an interview : “It is time to name the disease. Capitalism is a cancer. And the only way to defeat this cancer is to completely transform our way of living and our way of thinking about ourselves.”
– Trust in authority vs trust in one another
Years of intense campaigning against fracking and free trade agreements has taught me how corrupted by corporate power the entire system has become.
I’ve learned now that genuine solutions to our problems can only ever come from below, not from any authority, and certainly not from any form of government, be it local, regional or national, nor from any multilateral institution, no matter how well-meaning and benevolent that institution may appear on the surface.
The system can also embody the NGO and non-profit sector who, I’ve experienced, will tell you what the problems are but seldom bother to call into question the very structures that create these problems in the first place.
And because the root cause of these problems is never properly addressed, the same problems of exploitation surface time and time again.
To learn just how corrupted our authorities have become by corporate power, I’d advise everyone to invest themselves wholeheartedly in an issue like fracking where the links between a corporate-controlled government, a corporate-controlled media and a corporate-controlled police force fast become apparent.
On learning how corrupt the system is, you should come to the inescapable conclusion that it deserves to be dismantled.
Unfortunately, not everyone does realise this, perhaps because they rely on the system in some way –- I don’t know.
For example, I remember being at a conference on free trade in the EU Parliament nearly two years ago listening to an NGO campaigner making a case for reforming the World Trade Organisation. Why would you want to reform an institution that was set up to facilitate corporate power, power which destroys nature?
Calling for institutions to reform is akin to justifying their existence in the first place. Instead, we need to be challenging their very existence and calling for them to be dismantled altogether.
A bit utopian, I know. But as corporate power dictates political policy more and more as corporations pursue ‘the race for what’s left, the global scramble for the world’s last resources’ – to borrow Michael Klare’s book title – it would be illogical to envision a nature-connected future within the confines of the current system.
We have a responsibility right now to challenge the system itself, the structures of authority which hold themselves up as legitimate, which declare themselves as bastions of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, structures which are desperately seeking legitimacy at a time of crumbling empires and dwindling resources.
This obviously includes all multilateral institutions, but also the state. From my involvement in the campaign against EU free trade agreements, or corporate power grabs as I prefer to call them, I’ve seen how the state facilitates corporate power, while dismissing scientific evidence, expert advice and public opinion.
How can we possibly hope to protect nature under such an oppressive, undemocratic system whose servants bow so readily to the will of corporations?
As empires crumble and we veer towards what can only be described as a corporate dystopia, we simultaneously witness authority figures struggling to convince us of their narratives.
Hence the crackdown on alternative media and this ‘fake news’ phenomenon, a phenomenon used by those in power to control what information the awakening masses have the right to access.
As you’ve put it succinctly, all across the world the “’democratic’ gloves are coming off, the ‘news’ is revealing itself to be nothing but desperate propaganda, the ‘freedom’ capitalism claims to deliver is being exposed to one and all as a hollow lie.”
It is more urgent than ever that we stop looking to the system for solutions, stop legitimising all structures of authority and any ‘agreements’ concluded by their ‘leaders’ and, most importantly of all, stop falling for any propaganda trying to convince us that this system in its many guises – capitalism, multilateralism, liberalism, etc. – needs rescuing.
Instead, we need to trust each other and cooperate with each other rather than compete as this capitalist system conditions us to do. I would recommend everyone read CrimetheInc’s ‘To Change Everything‘ for further inspiration.
– Hope vs the responsibility of action
Lastly, we need to abandon the idea of hope, at least the sort of hope that fails to result in any tangible action. The hope that a small band of self-sacrificing activists will sort out the problems we face, the hope that political representatives will implement, of their own accord, policies that serve our interests rather than those of the 1%, the hope that a change in government will bring about the radical changes we need to see. Nature isn’t relying on us to hope for it, it is relying on us to do something to save it.
In one of your pieces, you share a remark by John Zerzan which resonates strongly with me: “There is an understandable, if misplaced, desire that civilization will cooperate with us and deconstruct itself. This mindset seems especially prevalent among those who shy away from resistance, from doing the work of opposing civilization”.
Sometimes I get the impression that people hope too much, but do too little.
In my experience of being involved in the Irish anti-fracking campaign – which lasted six years – many of us never hoped, never trusted our corporate-captured government, but many of us did work tirelessly to expose the political corruption and to ensure decision makers were held to account, listened to us and eventually did the right thing.
Anyone relying on hope without spending every breathing moment working on something to make things better is part of the problem, in my view. All campaigns need to start from the premise that you have a duty to act once you know the facts.
And once you learn about an issue as dangerous as fracking, of course, you feel a clear responsibility to take action, not out of fear – because fear kills the soul – but out of love, because you cherish the places and the lives that are under threat and don’t want to see them destroyed by greedy corporations.
As you put it so well: “Some human beings and their activities are acting as antigens, threatening the health of our species and our planetary superorganism. Other humans must therefore take on the role of antibodies”.
The last lines of Derrick Jensen’s essay ‘Beyond Hope‘ sum up the problem with hope perfectly: “When you give up on hope, you turn away from fear. And when you quit relying on hope, and instead begin to protect the people, things, and places you love, you become very dangerous indeed to those in power. In case you’re wondering, that’s a very good thing.”
For as long as anyone can remember, Western capitalism has claimed to be one and the same thing as “democracy”.
But as its global empire teeters on the point of collapse, its desperate attempts to cling to power have exposed this claim for the lie that it always was.
Much of the current wave of censorship and oppression is taking place on the internet – which has thus so far remained out of the direct control of the neoliberal system.
This October, Facebook and Twitter deleted the accounts of hundreds of users, including many alternative media outlets.
And credit for this seems to have been claimed by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a very dodgy NATO-linked organisation (previously exposed by The Acornhere and here) which aims to maintain full-spectrum US neoliberal global control.
The grayzone project reported that the GMF’s Jamie Fly said the USA was “just starting to push back” against its enemies’ use of the internet, adding: “Just this last week Facebook began starting to take down sites. So this is just the beginning”.
The USA’s ongoing persecution, and planned prosecution, of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange could likewise be regarded as part of the same “beginning” of neoliberalism’s overtly fascistic desire to crush any voices that dare to speak out against its imperial privilege.
Soo too could the coming to power in Brazil of the totalitarian neoliberal (or “plutofascist“) Jair Bolsonaro.
The Coordenação Anarquista Brasileira (Brazilian Anarchist Coordination) point out the geopolitical forces that lie behind his regime: “It’s clear our continent, Latin America, is seen as a strategic reserve of resources (political, natural, energy) for the use of the US, which makes the political situation of Brazil so important to Washington”.
Bolsonaro has followed the USA’s lead in declaring war on so-called “fake news”, which seems to mean any criticism of his policies by a supposedly “left-wing” media.
The UK government is also getting in on the censorship act, announcing that it is preparing to establish a new “internet regulator”.
Reports Buzzfeed: “The planned regulator would have powers to impose punitive sanctions on social media platforms that fail to remove terrorist content, child abuse images, or hate speech, as well as enforcing new regulations on non-illegal content and behaviour online”.
All of this helps further reduce what the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) recently called “the shrinking space for protest in the UK”.
Netpol’s Kevin Blowe wrote: “The militarised mentality of public order policing undoubtedly demands the latest technological advances, but it does so for a reason: conducting any war is never simply about the capture of physical space, but about the ability to maintain domination and control over it.
“’Keeping the peace’ (perhaps more accurately, pacification) involves the shrinking and ultimately denial of any space that your ‘enemy’ might conceivably benefit from. In public order policing terms, this invariably means any space to directly challenge either state or corporate power exercised in the name of progress or economic growth: for example, against the construction of airports, subsidies for the arms industry, nuclear power, fossil fuel extraction, or restrictions on workers’ rights”.
Netpol’s 2017 report on the policing of anti-fracking protests in England highlighted concerns that intense police surveillance of protesters has a potentially ‘chilling effect’ on freedom of assembly, in actively discouraging many from participation in campaigning activities.
“Furthermore, the smearing of legitimate campaigners as ‘extremists’ drives a wedge between them and potential allies in their communities and is used as a weapon against them by the media and pro-industry groups”, added Blowe.
Meanwhile, after the trial run with dogs, the microchipping of the UK’s human population is underway, starting at that point of greatest disempowerment, the workplace.
UK firm BioTeq has already fitted 150 implants in the UK. Another company, Biohax of Sweden, says it is in discussions with several British legal and financial firms about fitting their employees with microchips, including one major company with hundreds of thousands of employees.
If you can’t see the connection between this news and everything that has been outlined above, then you’re really not paying attention!
Work penetrates and determines the whole of our existence. Time flows mercilessly by as we shuttle back and forth between depressing and identical locations at ever-increasing speeds.
Working time… Productive time… Free time… Every one of our activities fits into its box. We think of acquiring knowledge as an investment for a future career; joy is transformed into entertainment and wallows in an orgy of consuming; our creativity is crammed within the narrow limits of productivity; our relationships, even our romantic encounters, speak the language of performance and profitability…
Our alienation has reached the point where we seek out any kind of work, even voluntary, to fill our existential void, to “do something”.
The identification of work with human activity, this doctrine which presents work as human beings’ natural destiny, seems to be lodged deep within our minds. This has reached the point where to refuse this forced condition, this social constraint, seems sacrilege, something no longer even thinkable.
Thus any kind of work becomes better than not working. That is the message spread by the defenders of the existing, those who want to maintain this world by calling for an ever-more frenetic race amongst the exploited, who are supposed to trample all over each other for a few crumbs from the bosses’ table.
However, it is not only the general working conditions that are leading us into this dead-end. It is work as a whole, work as a process which turns human activity into merchandise. It is work as a universal condition in which social relationships and ways of thinking are formatted.
It is work as the spinal column that holds together and perpetuates this society based on hierarchy, exploitation and oppression. And work as such must be destroyed.
We don’t just want to be happier slaves or better managers of our own misery. We want to restore meaning to human activity by acting together, guided by the quest for joie de vivre, knowledge, discovery, camaraderie and solidarity.
For individual and collective liberation, let’s liberate ourselves from work!
(Translated from anonymous leaflet Le travail libère-t-il?)
No political party has overall control of Brighton and Hove City Council, but Labour has the most councillors (22), with 20 Tories, 11 Greens and one independent.
A sign of the campaign’s momentum came four days after the public meeting, on November 16, when the East Brighton branch of the Labour Party unanimously called on all Labour councillors to oppose the development.
The housing scheme is being proposed by Hyde Housing, a business notorious for its profit-hungry approach.
It wants to build five blocks of flats on the local nature reserve at Whitehawk Hill, which is a common, Statutory Access land under the CROW Act and is an Ancient Neolithic Scheduled Monument.
An interesting side-issue has been the role played by something called Brighton Yimby, which claims to be a local pro-development group and announced online a “Whitehawk Says Yes” campaign in favour of the Hyde project.
It seems to have very little support in Brighton itself, with the notable exception of local Tory politician Rico Wojtulewicz, who also happens to be the senior policy advisor for the House Builders Association (HBA), the housebuilding division of the National Federation of Builders.
Instead it is very much part of an international, mainly American, “Yimby” network described in one US article as “the darlings of the real estate industry”.
We can only assume that when BrightonYimby claimed to speak “for the interests of the many” it meant to say “money”.
An impressive series of infographics has been produced, showing the variety of complementary ideas challenging the global domination of industrial capitalism. The illustrations cover degrowth, ecofeminism, deglobalization, the commons, the Vivir Bien movement and the concept of the rights of Mother Earth. Importantly, all these perspectives are recognised as complementary and opening up the possibility of a different world. Says the website: “To build systemic alternatives it is necessary to forge strategies and proposals that at different levels confront capitalism, extractivism, productivism, patriarchy, plutocracy and anthropocentrism”.
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A dynamic protest movement, NO TAP, has emerged in Melendugno, near Lecce in southern Italy, in response to the threat of the 540-mile Trans Adriatic Pipeline, due to bring gas from Azerbaijan into Europe via Turkey, Greece and Albania. Local anger was sparked in 2017 when the start of the works resulted in the uprooting of more than 200 olive trees and the creation of a securitised dead zone at the heart of the community. People have mobilised in numbers and have, inevitably, been met with repression by the police, those worldwide defenders of the industrial machine. NO TAP have produced a short video giving an idea of their full-on first year of struggle and which includes the following inspiring message: “The sun is shining for everyone, the wind is blowing for everyone… the possibility of realizing change is only a matter of will”.
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A protest is to be staged against the Welsh government’s plan to build a new motorway across the Gwent Levels, to the south of Newport. It would cost taxpayers at least £1.5 billion and drive global warming, whilst destroying a landscape known for its wildlife, archaeology, tranquillity and beauty. Says the CALM campaign: “Join us to say #NoNewM4, 12.30pm, Tuesday 4th December, outside the Senedd, Cardiff Bay. Our rally is an urgent call for Wales to take a fresh path – fit for all of us today, and for all our future generations”.
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Angry local people in eastern France are rising up against a hideous toll motorway project near Strasbourg, and some of them have been on hunger strike for a month. The 553-million Euro GCO scheme threatens many acres of forest and countryside and has been pushed through by the state and its corporate chums Vinci in spite of public inquiries coming out against it. Protesters have regularly blocked the work, causing serious delays in the project, and on November 18 some 400 people turned up to plant trees on the land already rased to make way for the new road. There is an international call-out to block Vinci everywhere in solidarity.
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The week of action against the G20 and IMF in Argentina (see Acorn 44) begins on Monday November 26 and the full programme of events has now gone online, in English, here. A date to keep an eye open for is Friday November 30, which is a national day of struggle against capitalism.
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We have come across two interesting online articles about that grim industrial-capitalist cult of life-denying artificiality known as transhumanism. Libby Emmons writes that “transhumanism is oppression disguised as liberation” and “part of a giant ideological redefinition of humanity”. She warns: “In its various forms, transhumanism is an attempt to reify an illusory mind-body dualism that has consequences well beyond what we can currently imagine”. And Julian Vigo comments on the dogmatic intolerance of the transhumanist stance, which paints as reactionary any point of view which questions, for instance, the wisdom of “cutting off healthy limbs to make way for a super-Olympian sportsperson”.
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“Thames Valley Police sent in multiple riot vans, used force against protesters several times and stood by as the Union’s private security assaulted protesters in broad daylight. One of the main chants throughout the demonstration was ‘Who protects the fascists? Police protect the fascists!'” The reality of the way that the capitalist system promotes and protects the far right was once again exposed in Oxford, UK, this month, where Islamophobic American globe-trotter Steve Bannon was met by a hostile 1,000-strong crowd when he turned up at the university. Report here.
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An exciting new step is being taken by the Enough is Enough project, which provides online news and info on the international struggle against capitalism, fascism and other forms of injustice. It is opening an info café in the Nordstadt district of Wuppertal, German territory. They say: “We do not just believe in a better world. We have started to live it a long time ago. And you all can decide if you want to become part of this world”. They have a crowdfunding site here.
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Feral Crust is an eco-anarchist collective based in Davao, Philippines, which is working on a land and community project. It is set on 1/2 hectare (1 acre) of the hilly terrain within the remaining forests that is home to native wildlife and indigenous people. You can read about their bid for land regeneration and autonomy here.
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In the midst of a devastating civil war, Kurds in Northern Syria, are building a multi-cultural society based on feminism, ecology, and direct democracy. How can these ideas lead to a lasting peace in the Middle East? What are their implications for radical politics in the West? What is it about the social structures of Rojava that inspires the fierce loyalty of its defenders and its people? Join Debbie Bookchin and David Graeber in London at the DJAM Lecture Theatre SOAS Russell Square Campus to discuss these issues Sunday November 25 from 5pm to 7pm at an event to launch the new publication Make Rojava Green Again by the Internationalist Commune in Rojava. The book will be available to buy and all proceeds from sales support the work of the Internationalist Commune. More information here.
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Acorn quote: “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”.
1. Germany: man dies as forest campaigners defy industrial capitalism
The battle to protect a forest from the coal mining industry has claimed a life.
Journalist and campaigner Steffen Horst Meyn fell to his death on September 19 from the tree house village Beechtown in Hambach Forest, Germany. He had been trying to document an ongoing eviction action by the police Special Task Force (SEK).
A press release from campaigners said it was no coincidence that this first fatal accident took place during the eviction.
They said everyone in the occupations had been enduring constant stress, with noise from expulsion and clearing, day and night, floodlights and flashing blue lights, massive police presence on the ground, and the sound of barking dogs and recordings of chainsaw noises.
This, as well as the news about the repeatedly life-threatening approach of the task forces, was having a physical and mental impact on all involved. Insomnia, stress and over-stimulation were not conducive to safe tree climbing, they added.
“According to our information, there is no direct connection with the acute local police action at the time of the accident. But we know first-hand that the deceased only climbed into the trees because he was permanently prevented by the police from doing his press work on the ground.”
On Sunday September 23 thousands of people defied a police ban and pouring rain to enter the forest in solidarity.
Said one activist: “We didn’t visit the memorial for Steffen in Beechtown until Sunday and we felt that we had to go there first. At the memorial it was very quiet. Some tears, sorrow-stricken faces. Personally I had a mixture of feelings.. Still shocked, grief and rage. Speechless…”
Barricades were built, police lost control for a while and reacted in the only way they know – violently.
On September 24 forest defenders blocked the railway line used to transport coal from the open cast mine to power stations, hoping to draw police resources away from the eviction – see this video.
Then on September 25 the cops demonstrated their total lack of respect for Steffen, removing the memorial built up by his friends because it was in the way of the eviction!
Meanwhile the Hambach activists are not losing sight of the bigger picture, stressing in a statement that the issues at stake go far beyond that particular forest and that particular mining threat.
“The problem is much larger than this forest getting cut and this coal mine being active. The problem is larger than every forest getting cut and every mine destroying Earth. The problem is capitalism. And this is the message that the media has been taking away from us.
“You can live a cute easy life, sign petitions, buy stuff on the biomarket, close the sink while you are brushing your teeth and turn off all lights to not waste electricity, and, don’t get us wrong, that’s okay, but as long as we live on a system that needs infinite growth on a world that has limited resources, that’s not gonna stop environmental destruction.
“We need an anticapitalist view of ecologism. We need an ecologist view of anticapitalism. We need to see beyond coal. And we need you all to make a step farther to stop climate change, to make a step farther to destroy capitalism.”
Global capitalist summits, at which the system’s leaders flaunt their prestige and power in front of the fawning global media, make an ideal target for anti-capitalist action.
Yes of course the opposition is symbolic, and does not immediately change day-to-day living conditions, but so are the summits. Wars of ideas are fought on a symbolic level.
Sly “radical” memes suggesting large-scale mobilisations are a waste of time often seem to have come straight out of The Infiltrator’s Guide to Ideological Sabotage (see below) and can safely be ignored.
With that in mind, we were delighted to see the call-outs for two summit mobilisations, in Argentina and in France.
This year, the Argentinian government is hosting the G20, a one-year process during which more than 80 meetings of G20 working groups, ministerial meetings and summits of the focus groups are taking place in the country.
The Leaders’ summit, for which the presidents from the G20 countries will travel to Buenos Aires, will take place on Friday November 30 and Saturday December 1 2018 at the “Costa Salguero” Convention Centre.
The government of Mauricio Macri is already preparing for the mega-event, buying airplanes, arms and what they call “anti-riot equipment” . In fact, one third of the budget for organizing the G20 is dedicated to “safety and defence”, which roughly amounts to 50 million US$.
And while the government is spending millions on the G20, it is cutting expenses for education and health and has entered a dangerous spiral of indebtedness by asking the IMF for a loan of 50 billion US$ in order to assure the country’s liquidities and its capacity to pay speculative hedge funds.
Says the No Al G20 website: “We believe that, in the same way that organising the G20 Summit last year in Hamburg was a massive provocation, organising the G20 Summit in Argentina in the context of this devastating financial crisis is an insult.”
The Confluencia Fuera G20 – IMF (the “G20 – IMF Out Confluence)” is planning a massive Week of Action, from the November 25 to December 1 and is inviting everyone to participate in the global repudiation of the G20, the IMF and everything these institutions represent.
Anti-capitalist comrades in France clearly think the Buenos Aires mobilisation is summit to get excited about, writing: “After the magnificent period of resistance around the G20 summit in Hamburg in 2017, after the G7 summit of June 2018 in Quebec – placed under an unparalleled repressive level, with its free expression zone – the G20 summit at Buenos Aires in November / December 2018 promises to be a great moment, given the current popularity of Macri, the history of local struggles, and the animosity of the region towards Trump…”
The 2019 G7 summit is due to take place at the end of summer 2019 in Biarritz. Says the call-out: “We have no illusions about the repressive level that we are entitled to expect from [Minister of the Interior] Gérard Collomb. It is clear that this summit will once again be a law enforcement laboratory, as will judicial measures against demonstrators and those who are organizing themselves.
“However, what happened in Hamburg must inspire us, must allow us to resume fighting on this scale, strengthen our international ties, make the news, disrupt these meetings of our governments.
“We are indeed calling for organizing, starting meetings, discussions, thinking about actions, demonstrations, preparing an info-tour, strengthening our national and international ties, writing articles, leaflets…
“We have one year ahead of us. And given the current repressive level, this time will not be too much. And as in Hamburg, we want the resistance to be plural and everywhere.
The British state is spending more than £250m on a new “offensive” online army, according to media reports.
Inevitably the move from the Ministry of Defence and GCHQ is being dressed up with scaremongering around the “threat” from Russia and Islamic State, but there is also talk of a “much wider online offensive” against “a range of hostile actors”.
To better understand what this sinister outfit might be getting up to, it is worth looking back at an article in The Intercept on the activities of GCHQ’s initially secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group), based on classified GCHQ documents.
Author Glenn Greenwald explains that it is not just “terrorists” who are targeted by JTRIG, but online activists, and the methods used go well beyond mere surveillance (stifling though that is, especially in the UK).
He writes: “These agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.
“Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable.”
The official document lists different kinds of operations it uses against dissidents: Infiltration Operation, Ruse Operation, Set Piece Operation, False Flag Operation, False Rescue Operation, Disruption Operation, Sting Operation.
Anyone wondering why radical groups (known to be heavily infiltrated by the state), so often split and fall apart may be interested to see the emphasis on “destructive organisational psychology” and on “identifying and exploiting fracture points”.
Sabotaging activism is generally high on the agenda. One illustration lists a series of key words: block, turn, fix, disrupt, limit, delay.
It is also clear that GCHQ sets out to manipulate political discourse online. Shunting radical anti-capitalism into obscure ideological dead-ends would be a useful dirty trick for these Thought Police to pull off.
With several references to stage magicians in their presentation document, JTRIG obviously rely on the gullibility of activists to make their scheming effective, as well as the “group-think” phenomenon in which people abandon their own instinctive common sense in order to fit in with the flock, no matter what nonsense the other sheep are bleating.
They note: “People make decisions as part of groups”. Control the group and you control the average individual – and their thinking.
Absurd capitalist pontificator Bernard-Henri Lévy has joined in the laughable and panicky propaganda efforts to portray all challengers to the US-led neoliberal system as part of one and the same threat to “democracy”.
BHL, as he is known, warns against a “terrifying” movement he calls the “dark Internationale” and into which he lumps everyone from left-wingers such as Jeremy Corbyn and Jean-Luc Mélenchon to the likes of Viktor Orban, Matteo Salvini, Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump.
Singling out Corbyn for criticism, he particularly objects to his support for the Palestinian cause, which apparently makes him a conspiracy theorist and “unalloyed anti-Semite”.
BHL, despite being a self-identified “leftist”, also dislikes Corbyn’s “crass ignorance of the functioning of a modern economy and the impression he gives, when speaking about renationalization, tax policy, anti-austerity measures, the health system, or public services, of being stuck in the paleo-Marxism of the 1950s”.
And he is very worried by Corbyn’s “untethered loathing for an America he blames for all ills” – a political heresy which can only usher in, it seems, an “oncoming twilight of democracy and humanistic values”.
BHL has form for this sort of thing. In 1977 he declared he would change his French nationality if the Communist Party came to power in France and in 1985 he signed a letter urging Ronald Reagan to keep supporting the far-right Contras in Nicaragua.
In 2009 he publicly supported Israel’s murderous Operation Cast Lead against the people of Gaza.
BHL’s rabid pro-Americanism did not go unappreciated in the USA. As we mentioned in Acorn 34, a CIA report revealed they were very keen on the “New Philosopher”, whose position of power at the Grasset publishing house was crucial in spreading the US-friendly ideology he was promoting.
It is hardly surprising that BHL is widely despised by French-speaking anti-capitalists and he has also become a figure of ridicule, thanks to the series of custard pies skillfully aimed at him by celebrated entarteur Noël Godin.
We invite our readers to sit back and enjoy the sight of BHL getting his come-uppance from the patisserie-armed wing of the “dark Internationale” that so terrifies him.
A festival of anarchist ideas is being held in London in October, with the non-appearance of the usual bookfair after last year’s controversy (see Acorn 38).
Organisers explain: “It is vital the tradition remains and the work of spreading anarchist ideas continues. To go some small way to filling the gap, the organisers of the London Radical Bookfair have proposed having a decentralised festival of anarchist ideas and action, involving as many of London’s anarchist leaning bookshops, social centres and campaign groups as are willing to take part. We’re calling it #nottheanarchistbookfair.
“The idea is simple: anarchist groups put on their own programme of events, concentrating on the dates of the weekend of 20-21st October 2018, and the programme is collated by us on our website and social media”.
The battle to save Leith Hill in Surrey from drilling has finally been won! Two years ago we reported an optimistic mood at the protection camp, with one campaigner telling us “nobody except a handful of investors wants the drilling here at Leith Hill to go ahead”. He was proved right and earlier this month Europa Oil and Gas announced it was pulling out of the site. Green Party MEP Keith Taylor commented: “Don’t let anybody ever tell you protests don’t achieve anything. They do.”
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A cooperative café and social centre sowing the seeds of revolution in Jerusalem is featured in the latest report from the anti-capitalist Shoal Collective. The Imbala collective explain they are faced with an increasingly nationalistic atmosphere: “We held a vigil of just 20 or 30 people in Jerusalem city centre. People yelled, spat and kicked us and all our signs were torn away from us. That’s the atmosphere of Jerusalem today. It’s difficult to have a left-wing protest against the occupation here these days.”
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Direct action was taken in Australia against toxic right-wing anti-migrant politician Peter Dutton. Six windows were smashed at his political office near Brisbane and two doors damaged. The former cop, turned businessman, property tycoon and politician, is known by some Australians as Potato Head. He is currently Minister for Home Affairs.
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“For too long we have falsely believed that everything progressive, democratic, and radically left comes from the Modern West. As we support contemporary emancipatory and revolutionary global movements, let us remember that truly equal and just non-authoritarian societies are not only possible, but have existed on the African and other continents for much longer than the recent phenomenon of tyranny, the state, and capitalism.” This is the conclusion of a fascinating article on Indigenous Anarchism by DJ Zhao, highlighted recently by anarchist blog The Slow Burning Fuse.
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“Mother Earth or death! This is the alternative we are confronted with today”, argues Prof. Claudia von Werlhof in an important article. She adds: “The world system that is threatening all of us is based on a strange phenomenon I was only recently able to fully grasp, namely a ‘hatred of life’… The hatred of life is no fleeting emotion or a mere individual or personal experience of a certain situation or moment. It is nothing less than hostility to life itself, which – and this is my thesis – has become the main foundation, driving force, and defining criterion for a patriarchal civilization dating back almost 5000 years.”
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A unity demo against the far right in the UK has been called for Saturday October 13 in London. The call-out has so far been supported by: Anti-Fascist Network, Anti-Fascist Student Network, Birmingham Antifascists, Easton Cowgirls Football Club, Feminist Fightback, International Bolshevik Tendency, Leicester Antifascists, Kent Anti-Racist Network, Kurdish Student Union UK, London Anti-Fascists, Midlands Antifascist Network, North East Anti-Fascists, North London Anti-Fascists, Plan C – London, Birmingham, Essex, Cambridge, Queerspace East, Sister not Cister UK, The x:talk project, Women’s Strike Assembly – London, Birmingham, Cardiff. Meanwhile an excellent short documentary on the UK’s far right has been produced by redfish.
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Acorn quote: “I am the living spirit of nature as it emerges in you, filtered by the collective mind of the human species”.
The call is going out to mobilise against a fascistic and militaristic “security” conference being staged in Austria on September 20, 2018.
The informal meeting of EU heads of state and government is being held under the slogan of “A Europe that protects”, and key points on the agenda include so-called “internal security”, the so-called “protection” of the EU’s external borders, and so-called “cyber security”.
Say opponents: “We refuse to be deceived by the EU’s excessive use of euphemism. It is crystal-clear that the Salzburg summit will be a summit of authority: a pseudo-democratic spectacle of a bunch of assholes deciding about repressive policies that will boost their position in the struggle for economic and military power – at our expense.
“‘Internal security’ means giving even more weapons of all kinds to those whose job it is to spy on us and arrest us. The ‘protection of the EU’s external borders’ is the militarized expulsion and deterrence of refugees and migrants. ‘Cyber security’ means digital control of our data and our actions.”
Migration will be a key point on the agenda on September 20. In an insidious propagandistic move, people fleeing from war and hardship are portrayed as a security threat. But whose security is meant, and who is supposed to be protected from whom?
Calls for an extended Frontex mandate and an increased number of deportations have a clear aim: the militarized expulsion and deterrence of people fleeing the devastations caused by power blocks such as the EU, who actively engage in the exploitation of the Global South.
Politicians are vying with one another for the most absurd plans. To name just one example, Jens Spahn, the Health Minister (sic!) of the German conservative party (CDU) wants to see Frontex forces multiply from the current 1,500 to 100,000.
The portrayal of refugees as a security threat serves to legitimize policies of “internal security”, that is the increased arming of the state’s institutions for spying and repression.
Sadly, governmental and non-governmental racist-nationalist projects have won over the minds of a considerable proportion of the population (not only) in Austria – with the result that people enthusiastically embrace policies that run against their own interests, believing that these measures will “protect” them.
For instance, the new Austrian Face-Veiling-Ban makes surveillance much easier by forcing each and every person on Austrian territory to present their face to the ubiquitous CCTV cameras at all times. This is hardly likely to foster the “peaceful coexistence” mentioned in the preamble to the new law.
Another European trend is the increased arming and militarization of the police and the extension of their powers. The new Bavarian police law is a particularly scary example: police in the southern German state are set to be given secret-service-style powers. “Smart” video technology and face recognition are going to be used, postal secrecy will be lifted, and the cops will be equipped with hand grenades.
The Austrian conservative chancellor Sebastian “Message Control” Kurz has announced he will take up the “struggle against internet giants such as Google and Facebook”. Of course, digital policies are not driven by the desire to protect the personal data of the EU’s subjects. Neither do they arise from sincere outrage about the large-scale tax evasion practised by corporations.
On the contrary, the driving force of such policies is the competition for technological hegemony among those in power and for the technological means to monitor our thoughts and actions.
Those in power in the EU have recognized the need to secure control over the technological apparatus, in order to keep up with the latest top manipulation techniques (e.g. look up “nudging” in your newspeak dictionary). In this context, chancellor Kurz tellingly used the phrase “equality of weapons”.
According to press reports, the state dinner on September 19 is likely to take place in Mirabell Palace, and the political meeting in the Mozarteum University. Thus, both relevant venues as well as the four hotels where the heads of state and government, plus their entourage, will be staying for the summit will be in close proximity to each other (all in the inner city of Salzburg to the right of the river Salzach).
Around these venues, a so-called “security zone” is going to be set up – for rebels it is more likely to be an insecurity zone. In mid-April, local press reported the planned use of drones “as one part of the security concept for the Austrian presidency of the EU council”.
The call-out adds: “Police drones will be hovering above our heads this autumn, spying on and filming each of our movements. When will they shoot at us?
“The militarized siege of our city that is lying ahead seems like a consistent follow-up to local policies. Decades ago, homeless people were removed from the inner city during the posh Salzburg Festival, and a sectoral ban on begging was imposed on large parts of the inner city some years ago in order to get rid of the travelling poor, many of them Romani and Sinti people.
“These measures are supposed to make sure that the city’s wealthy conservative elite and paying tourists are spared the sight of the poverty caused by capitalism and nationalist-racist policies of expulsion. This is how Salzburg discriminates between wanted and unwanted guests.
“We are calling all partisans of freedom and equality to come to Salzburg in mutual solidarity – let’s demonstrate what is really unwanted: the oppression caused by white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, the nationalism feeding on antisemitic conspiracy theories, the positions of power that enable a system of inequality to live on.
After the long-awaited victory against the airport project, residents of the zad autonomous zone at Notre-Dame-des-Landes in France are trying to recover from a brutal spring which was marked by two phases of violent evictions.
The massive police operations caused many injuries, the destruction of a part of the living spaces of the zad and involved a long military presence. But the state was forced to give up going any further and entirely eradicating the rebel presence.
Resistance on the ground, solidarity elsewhere and the negotiation process resulted in a status quo that left dozens of homes, common spaces and activities on most of the land held by the movement. Nevertheless, this could very quickly be attacked again, administratively, politically or militarily.
Whilst the zad recovers from its wounds and recomposes itself, the work in the fields and the constructions resume.
Important global issues are involved here: collective and respectful use of the land, sharing of the commons, questioning of nation-states and borders, reappropriation of habitats, the possibility of producing and exchanging free from the shackles of the market, forms of self-organization on territories in resistance and the right to live there freely.
Following more than two years of regular building work and a new month of construction this summer, the week of August 27 to September 2 will also be the inauguration of the Ambazada, a space intended to welcome rebels and struggles from around the world to the zad of Notre-Dame-des-Landes.
To honour and celebrate the opening of the Ambazada the zad rebels have made a call for a new intergalactic week.
The zad forever site says there are lots of questions to be discussed, such as “how to throw down the anchor for the long term without becoming domesticated; being community centred or more porous in our movements; the power struggles and frontal relationship with the state and possibilities for victories to last”.
Part of the week will be devoted to open encounters with guests from the Wendland in Germany, Christiania in Denmark, the free district of Lentillères in France, Errekaleor in the Basque Country and perhaps Exarchia in Greece.
There will also be discussions on the way that peoples everywhere are resisting cultural assimilation and liberal ideology.
The US air base at Ramstein in Germany was completely blocked by a protest of 2,500 people at the end of June, calling for it to be closed.
Ramstein is the biggest American air base outside the USA and hosts the USAF’s European HQ, and control rooms for drone missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.
On a blistering hot day better suited for a trip to the pool, and despite the rival attraction of the World Cup, opponents of the base turned up in large numbers for the annual protest in Rhineland-Palatinate in southwestern Germany.
Sahra Wagenknecht of Die Linke (The Left), Ann Wright (former US Army colonel), Reiner Braun (of Stopp Air Base Ramstein) and Eugen Drewermann (theologian and psychoanalyst) were all in attendance. Wagenknecht told the crowd: “There are over 1,000 US military bases around the world, and none of them exist to ensure the security of those countries”.
The protest came as US President Donald Trump seemed to be questioning the need for the huge US military presence in Germany, which has been in place since the end of the Second World War.
Protesters hoped this could put the issue on the political agenda in Germany, though they warned they did not want to see the bases simply moved into Poland as part of US pressure on Russia.
A new international network against military bases has now been set up. Its founding statement defines the establishment of a military base by one country outside its own territory is an act of aggression.
It declares: “Our goal is to close all foreign military bases. Military bases pose threats of political and economic expansion, sabotage and espionage, and crimes against local populations. US bases in particular are the largest users of fossil fuel in the world, heavily contributing to environmental degradation.
“We commit to supporting and working with all organizations and networks who campaign for the removal of foreign military bases in their countries and communities, to raise public awareness, increase political and international pressure and help as far as possible to organise and co-ordinate non-violent resistance with the aim of eventually closing them all.”
4. Returning fire against the industrial capitalist system
The latest issue from our comrades at Return Fire magazine is now available online.
At 128 pages, this is their largest offering yet. It includes previously unavailable English translations looking at the bandits operating against shipping industries off the Somalian coastline and Marco Camenisch’s commentary on the molecular frontier of industrial toxicity, Nanotechnology & Transparency.
There is a look at the “New Smart World of Slaves” into which we are currently moving and at anti-state forms of social life in Zomia, south-east Asia, amongst much else.
Here is a passage from a heart-felt piece called “We are not afraid of their ruins… We carry a new chaos in our hearts”:
“We proclaim from our madness, rebellious and contagious, that we don’t care about the penal codes and their reforms because we do not believe in their laws or in their disorders.
“Since we were born we have lived in turmoil and subjected to the rule of law, the family, religion, medicine, school, work, husband, father, state… and disobeying them all, and for that reason they have labeled us with their despicable assortment of incurable and chronic diseases.
“They condemn us for life even before we are born, and we will continue shitting on their scientific, political, economic, social and religious truths, because obedience and submission are the only true diseases.
“We began a long tormented journey in which we were torn from our natural environment to join the system of a world to which we do not want to adapt. We will always be uneasy, unstable, critical, irritating, miserable, emotional, passionate, restless, resistant, distracted, loving, hyperactive, overflowing… and warriors, because we will not give up germinating our madness in the face of the blackmail and emotional conflicts with which they want to domesticate us and the permanent confrontation between us and them.
“We are sick with a dark bile of rage that stirs like a storm against all those who feel safe and secure in this uncertain world that, day by day, destroys us. They contaminate the air we breathe with sulfur and uranium. The waters of the rivers are increasingly toxic due to their heavy metal slag discharges.
“Their emissions of dioxides, methane and fluorinated polluting gases are suffocating and burning nature and putting at risk the survival of all animals, human or nonhuman, and plant beings.
“They covered the planet with a thick skin of toxic black paste and surrounded the territory with rail tracks, highways, metal fences, concrete walls, high voltage towers and barbed wire fences… separating us from our siblings and neighbors and filling the atmosphere with electromagnetic radiation.
“They keep the mountains seriously ill from wounds opened by quarries, mineral extraction and deforestation. They imprison nonhuman animals to die in industrial farms, and they enlist us in industrial centers of penitentiary exploitation.
“They bomb civilian populations in the name of freedom, justice and democracy, plundering entire countries for questioning their hegemonic model of capitalist, white, patriarchal, western and Christian life, leading thousands of people into the blind alley of their misery, destruction and death.
“And it is they, the selfproclaimed guardians of the freedoms of the world, of this destructive world order that is nothing new, who consider us ‘crazy’ and ‘dangerous subjects’ to justify our gags, the pharmacological straitjackets, the confinement to perpetuity and the death sentence.
“Our ‘madness’ is not fooled by the modern designs of the democratized chemical lobotomies and shock therapies that they use as torment and torture in the most bloody of dictatorships… because they fear us.
“They, those who throw us out of our houses, those who after exploiting us in their factories force us into unemployment. They, those who determine who has more ‘right’ to live in a territory that is not theirs and in which they can only maintain their privileges by the harsh repression and by the destructive capacity of the weapons of their armies… They fear us”.
5. The Broken Harp: how colonialism crushes culture
When we think of people suffering under colonial occupation, a number of elements immediately spring to mind.
There is the military and repressive side, of course. The occupiers’ army bases and patrols, the courts and prisons enforcing the “legality” of the occupation and the local police forces who collaborate with the colonisers to keep down their own people.
Then there is the economic aspect, ultimately the raison d’être of all imperialism. Raw materials are ripped out of the earth to feed the empire’s insatiable greed, crops are exported directly back to the imperial centre even if locals are starving, the colonial subjects are denied the right to autonomous lives and are put to work as slaves for the imperial machine.
Those who look into the effects of colonialism more closely will also detect the cultural dimension. The values of the ruling imperial order are imposed and local culture, traditions and ways of thinking, which might offer some resistance to the smooth running of the centralised system, are devalued and destroyed.
One aspect of this cultural colonisation which is easily forgotten, especially by those of us who are native English speakers, is the linguistic one.
The crucial importance of this issue is examined in depth in The Broken Harp: Identity and Language in Modern Ireland by Tomás Mac Síomóin, published by Nuascéalta.
The starting point for Mac Síomóin’s analysis is his own home country, where the Irish Gaelic language risks becoming extinct within a few decades, if current trends continue, despite its superficial presence on road signs and the like.
He takes issue with the assumption, apparently widespread in Ireland, that Irish particularity can just as well be expressed by speaking English in a particularly Irish way.
He points out that words, in any language, have an aura of subtle associations that are specific to the culture which gave rise to them. The English word “seaweed”, for example, is not the exact equivalent of “feamainn”, which comes with its “own unique set of social and literary allusions”.
The inability of any community to express itself in its own terms, according to its own thinking, is a form of disempowerment that runs parallel to the inability to participate in decision-making processes.
Effectively, by talking and thinking in the coloniser’s language, the colonial subject submits to the dominant worldview of the coloniser. This is the “defining colonizing moment”, as Mac Síomóin puts it.
He quotes academic historian Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh as describing the abandonment of native language as inevitably involving “a disorienting rupture in cultural continuity at several levels; not only an alienation from landscape (place names) and inherited historical narratives and communal myths, but also a deep psychological trauma, at an individual and communal level, caused by the loss of a rich inherited matrix of wisdom and knowledge.”
The issue is by no means confined to Ireland, of course. More than 6,000 languages are currently spoken around the globe, but between 50% and 90% of these are likely to have vanished by the year 2100, warn experts.
Mac Síomóin cites perspectives from other continents, where the death of local culture has gone hand in hand with the death of local language.
The Kenyan writer and cultural activist, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, for instance, writes: “Communication between human beings is the basis and process of evolving culture. Values are the basis of people’s identity, their sense of particularity as members of the human race. All this is carried by language. Language as culture is the collective memory bank of a people’s experience in history. Culture is almost indistinguishable from the language that makes possible its genesis, growth, banking, articulation and indeed its transmission from one generation to the next.”
He adds: “The bullet was the means of the physical subjugation. Language was the means of the spiritual subjugation.”
In their Neo-Colonial Politics and Language Struggle in the Philippines (1984), Virgilio G. Enriquez and Elizabeth Protacio-Marcelino argue that possession of a national language is an essential precondition for autonomy.
They say the continued use of English in a US-oriented educational system “undermines Filipino values and orientation and perpetuates the captivity in the minds of the Filipino people to the colonial outlook. For them, the English language symbolizes the belief in the superiority of US culture, values, society; thus it can only serve the exploitative profit-seeking ends of US power.”
Mac Síomóin identifies several layers of colonisation in Ireland, from the historical English colonisations to the Anglicising role of the Roman Catholic Church, the contemporary effect of British TV and, of course, the influence of US cultural imperialism, which has so undermined the authenticity of European societies since the mid 20th century.
He asks how many Irish children, even Irish-speaking ones, know a tenth as much about the heroes of traditional Gaelic mythology, Fionn Mac Cumhail and Cúchulain, as they do about The Simpsons, Dora the Explorer, Sponge Bob Squarepants, etc., and the world of Disney.
He identifies the Irish as suffering from a kind of collective Stockholm Syndrome, a “Super-Colonized Irishness” (SCI), which renders them incapable of even noticing what has happened to them, let alone resisting it.
And, in a fascinating aside, he dips into contemporary genetic research to suggest that some kind of inherited colonisation trauma could be affecting the psychological health of the Irish people, as well as other victims of imperialism across the world.
From a native English-speaking perspective, it has to be said that the psychological state of the English population is not great, either!
But then the dispossessed of England have also been dominated for centuries by an arrogant ruling elite, seen their folklore and ancient wisdom suppressed by authoritarian religion, been thrown off the land and into industrial slavery and been used as cannon fodder for the profiteering greed of the imperialist classes.
Who, anywhere and in any language, can really escape the deeply imbedded trauma of being born into a dehumanising industrial capitalist society plummeting towards nightmarish environmental catastrophe?
6. Organic radicalism: bringing down the fascist machine
In a new in-depth analysis just published on our website, we take a look at the “eco-fascist” smear often levelled against deep green anti-capitalist thinking.
Although the Nazis certainly exploited nature-friendly language for their propaganda, we show that ultimately their narrow racist dogma was completely incompatible with coherent holistic and organic thinking.
We also explore the organic philosophies developed by anarchist, left-wing and Jewish thinkers and suggest that these would make an excellent basis on which to rebuild an explicitly anti-fascist organic radicalism to resist and eventually bring down the industrial capitalist machine.
Here is an extract:
Kurt Goldstein (1878-1965) was a Jewish socialist critic of modernity, who set out to combine holistic and organic German philosophy with the values of reason, democracy and individual freedom.
Throughout his life, he warned against the dangers of applying narrow, fragmented scientific ways of thinking to other realms.
He wrote in an unpublished 1965 paper: “The progress by the application of science to all fields, also those which are related to the spiritual side of man, as education, psychology, sociology, etc, seems to be so enormous that somebody who today dares to oppose even a little this trend and warns against the fateful consequences for human existence is considered either stupid or uneducated, irresponsible or prejudiced”.
From Goldstein’s holistic perspective, everything was interconnected, outside and inside the individual human being. The words ‘mind’ and ‘body’, for instance, did not point to genuine entities but were just ‘symbols’, human abstractions, denoting different aspects of an overall organic reality that could not in fact be divided.
He has been described, by Ruth Nanda Anshen, as having introduced “a new doctrine of organism which may be said to be taking the place of the materialism with which, since the seventeenth-century, science has enmeshed philosophy”.
The psychologist Max Wertheimer (1880-1943), took Goethe as a starting point, developing the idea of Gestalt, or underlying form, in a promising direction far removed from the dead-end of racism into which the Nazis tried to divert it.
Born in Prague, he fled central Europe before Hitler came to power and continued his work in the USA, later becoming an American citizen.
While the Nazis claimed piecemeal or fragmented thinking was a Jewish trait, Wertheimer, who was himself Jewish, turned this round against them.
He argued that the modern world had cropped humanity’s thinking capacity. Piecemeal thinking – strings of propositions torn from their original living context – was being used by demagogues and certain intellectuals to hoodwink people into accepting their ideas.
In the 1934 essay ‘On truth’ he distinguished between truth and mere facts. Facts meant nothing on their own. Truth was a holistic understanding of the significance of various facts in the wider context of their relationship to one another and to a larger whole. He wrote: “A thing may be true in the piecemeal sense, and false, indeed a lie, as a part in its whole”.
Wertheimer judged that the key concepts of truth, ethics, democracy and freedom were all under attack from contemporary academic thinking, influenced by positivism, pragmatism and cultural relativism. Indeed this anti-holistic stance had itself helped prepare an intellectual field in which it had become possible for the Nazis to succeed.
In an essay on ethics, he took a critical look at ethical relativity which – like the Nazis with their German/Aryan particularism – denied the existence of ethical universals.
As a believer in the organic unity of humankind, Wertheimer disputed this and insisted that experience showed that most people, “when faced with clear, actual injustice”, responded spontaneously in ways that human beings would universally consider decent and ethical.
Gestalt psychology, which Wertheimer developed along with Kurt Koffka (1886-1941) and Wolfgang Köhler (1887-1967), was an influence on the anti-capitalist Critical Theory of Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979), Max Horkheimer (1895-1973) and the Frankfurt School in general.
The organic and anti-mechanistical approaches taken by Jewish thinkers like Wertheimer and Goldstein illustrate the fact that there existed a broad anti-industrial current in German-speaking Europe which was not simply non-Nazi, but anti-Nazi, and whose fundamental principles placed it in direct opposition to fascism.
Two big days of action against the far right are coming up in London. The first is on Friday July 13, when massive protests are expected against US President Donald Trump. The second is on Saturday July 14 when bigoted worshippers of the Tommy Robinson cult will be peddling their own version of Muslim-hating xenophobia. The Anti-Fascist Network have announced a Saturday meet-up at 1pm at the International Brigades Memorial in Jubilee Gardens on the south bank of the river and they will march from there.
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The Earth First! UK 2018 summer gathering will be held in Sussex from August 15 to 20. It offers five days of skill-sharing for grassroots ecological direct action – make links, share ideas, and get involved in the struggles against fracking, new roads and more. The gathering will be camping at a rural site (accessible by public transport, nearest station Horsham). Participants will need to bring a tent, sleeping bag, torch and suchlike. Meals are provided by the gathering’s collective kitchen and there’ll be a snack shop.
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The fascist-capitalist-industrial system is using private security firm Eclipse Strategic Security to carry out surveillance against anti-fracking campaigners on behalf of the oil and gas business, an article on Motherboard has revealed. It adds: “Eclipse has ties to oil companies, the police and military networks, and one director is a former British soldier who has expressed support for far-right groups online”.
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From July 29 to August 2, the 4th international Degrowth Summer School in Germany will take place at the Climate Camp Leipzig Land. After three years at the Rhineland Climate Camp, the event with around 500 participants now moves to another mining area and to this new camp.
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Israel is arming neo-Nazis in Ukraine, a shock report on Electronic Intifada has revealed. The Tavor rifles being used by the Azov militia are produced underlicence from Israel Weapon Industries, and as such would have been authorized by the Israeli government. This is just the latest instance of links between Israel and the extreme right in Europe.
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“Reviving the memory of the struggles of the past makes us feel part of something larger than our individual lives and in this way it gives a new meaning to what we are doing and gives us courage, because it makes us less afraid of what can happen to us individually”. So says Italian activist and author Silvia Federici in an inspiring interview on the joyfulmilitancy site.
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Are the degrowth “Buddhist economics” of E.F: Schumacher heading for a badly-needed revival, as capitalism pushes humanity to the brink of disaster? In a thoughtful article on brainpickings, Maria Popova looks at a vision that challenges the dominant mercantile and mechanistic mindset obsessed with production and profit.
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Pro-war “radlibs” (radical liberals) come under discussion in this moderate rebels podcast from the USA, which also debunks the “red-brown” smears increasingly used by McCarthyite pro-war “leftists” to malign anyone opposed to US/NATO-led regime change.
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Acorn quote: “You have hanged in Chicago, decapitated in Germany, garotted in Jerez, shot in Barcelona, guillotined in Montbrison and Paris, but what you will never destroy is anarchy. Its roots are too deep. It is born in the heart of a society that is rotting and falling apart. It is a violent reaction against the established order. It represents all the egalitarian and libertarian aspirations that strike out against authority. It is everywhere, which makes it impossible to contain. It will end by killing you”.
It has long been obvious that the Thatcher years in the UK were an important moment in social history, which paved the way for the neoliberalism we know today.
Her fervently pro-US government pushed through wave after wave of privatisation and assaults on the public sector, dismantling the structures of the vaguely social-democratic version of industrial capitalism that had remained intact since the Labour election victory of 1945.
The same thing is happening in France at the moment under President Emmanuel Macron, a hardline neoliberal in the Thatcher mould, who hides this by adopting, in a Tony Blair kind of way, a smoothly “progressive” facade.
Like Thatcher and Blair, Macron is “pro”-US in the same way that leaders of Cold War East Germany could be said to have been “pro”-USSR.
With Brexit, the US neoliberal empire lost its key placeman in Europe, so it was vital that France flew the flag for “Transatlantic values”.
Macron, a former investment banker at Rothschild, was actually groomed by a US propaganda organisation, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, as they proudly declare on their website.
He was “awarded the Marshall Memorial Fellowship, the flagship leadership development program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, in 2006”.
Macron “participated in an intensive learning and networking experience designed to foster collaboration, build personal capacity and prompt innovative thinking and problem-solving” and was “immersed in communities across the Atlantic through travel and study”.
Macron may have won the 2017 election, but his attempts to Thatcherise France are proving deeply unpopular and have sparked massive opposition in the streets.
The main elements of this revolt concern:
1. Trade unions. Currently the railway workers are in the front line, fighting Macron’s attack on the SNCF and the unions.
2. Education. His neoliberal education “reforms” are being met with fierce resistance by students and lycéens – High School students – with occupations and protests across the country.
3. Migrants. Macron may have won the presidential run-off because people didn’t want a Front National government, but his interior minister Gérard Collomb is rolling out anti-immigrant rhetoric and legislation worthy of the extreme right.
4. Zadistes. Macron abandoned plans for an airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes only to launch a brutal eviction of the zad, a unique free space of resistance and alternative living.
5. Police violence. Common to all these aspects has been a spiralling use of thuggish violence to impose neoliberal policy. Trade unionists, students and other protesters have been frequently attacked by the CRS riot police. Far-right vigilantes appear to be working hand in hand with the state. At the zad, a young man had his hand blown off by a police grenade and dozens have been beaten up and injured by Macron’s enforcers.
6. “Convergence des luttes”. The positive side to all this is that there has been increasing emphasis on a convergence of all the struggles, a realisation that they in fact amount to one single social war. Rail workers have supported the zadistes and vice-versa. There is solidarity between students, anti-fascists, anarchists, socialists and so on. The common enemy, the Macron regime, and its extreme neoliberal objectives, are plain to see.
Defeating this enemy will not be easy, despite the enthusiasm generated by the 50th anniversary of the May 1968 uprisings, but if Macron had wanted to radicalise a whole new generation of young people and turn them into sworn enemies of his neoliberal project, he could hardly have gone about it better.
Most of us are familiar with word puzzles that invite us to fill in the missing link between two apparently unconnected words. The solution to road ( ) bean would be “runner”, the answer to salad ( ) gown would be “dressing”, etc.
The same game can be played with issues and events. Two different things are going on at the same time, which seem to be unrelated. But, if you pay attention, you will see that there is a hidden element which ties them together.
To see how this works, let’s take two current UK controversies. The first is the Philip Cross scandal, in which Wikipedia entries have been systematically edited for political ends by some kind of self-appointed thought police.
The second is the question of police infiltration of dissident political movements. After activists started unmasking police spies in 2010, with media interest, the state was forced to hold an Undercover Policing Inquiry, which has led to more revelations and a lot more official obfuscation and cover-up.
The puzzle here could be expressed as thought ( ) spies and our sharper readers will already have spotted that the answer is “police”.
But what implications lurk behind the word, in the context of a bracketed zone between Orwellian re-writers of the record and coppers pretending to be activists?
As a useful article by Connor Woodman in Jacobin Mag reminds us, there is a political objective behind the spy cop operations: “These overwhelmingly left-wing groups were infiltrated for a clear reason: to delimit the scope of threats to the status quo”.
In our own recent Winter Oak special report we looked at the way in which the infiltration of our movements is not limited to the level of practical activism.
It is clear that we are witnessing a concerted attempt at ideological sabotage, at a bid to destroy anarchist and anti-capitalist coherency and effectiveness by infiltrating and undermining its thinking.
Much of this currently seems to revolve around the “red-brown” smear, the claim that certain people on the left are actually, wittingly or not, pandering to fascism and crossing a line of “acceptable” opinion.
This is staged in a very clever, but intellectually dishonest, way.
The witch-hunt process paints itself as coming from a very enlightened anti-fascist position.
And from that position, which amounts to the moral high ground in anti-capitalist circles, it condemns others as being somehow right-wing, reactionary or, increasingly, “anti-semitic”.
But the truth is the exact opposite. The witch-hunters are themselves part of a pro-war, pro-US, pro-Israel, neoliberal network and are attacking their targets not from the left but from the right.
They in fact object to anyone who is critical of the neoliberal system and its imperial wars.
The whole “red-brown” angle totally reflects the neoliberal worldview, in which they, the imperial capitalists, are the political default position, the “centre”, and anyone who opposes them is an extremist, a populist, a “red-brown” fascist.
By constantly insisting that the anti-capitalist left is somehow close to far-right populism, these neoliberals are in fact doing the very work they accuse others of doing – of trying to blur the lines between the two very different and in fact incompatible world views.
This attempted ideological amalgamation is an assault on the left, a bid to tarnish its strong ethical principles with racist or other unsavoury associations.
Apart from the neoliberals themselves, the other big winners from this strategy are the fascists, who suddenly find the perfect camouflage for their views. When half of the left are being accused of anti-semitic or fascistic tendencies, what have real fascists got to fear?
Do the fake-left witch-hunters care about this? No, because they are not actually anti-fascist. They merely use the “fascist” smear as a way of discrediting and disabling the anti-capitalist left in the interests of right-wing neoliberalism.
These attacks are being churned out at an alarming rate at the moment, and all seem to follow more or less the same line of attack.
Witness a three-part article which appeared on the New Zealand site Fightback entitled “The Red-Brown ‘zombie plague’: how fascist ideas are becoming popular on the Left”.
Author Daphne Lawless, a supposed left-winger, launches straight in with a complaint about left-wing challenges to the dominant narrative in Syria. Like all neoliberals, she just has to leap to the defence of Uncle Sam.
Claims of pro-US false flag attacks are “baseless slander” and, of course, nothing but “conspiracy theories”, tainted by association with the far right, she says.
This is her springboard into the usual smears. It is all part of “a growing convergence of Leftist and far–right rhetoric”, a “red-brown” menace.
Critics of US imperialism, she suggests, neatly integrating the US state’s “fake news” offensive, have simply fallen for “Russian propaganda”.
Lawless approvingly quotes an attack on anti-Americanism by Moishe Postone, the Canadian “leftist” who is regarded as a major inspiration for the antideutsch movement, that bizarre pro-US, pro-Israel, pseudo-leftist German political movement.
On and on she goes, leaving the reader with a gnawing realisation of how familiar it all seems. The obsession with Syria, Russia and “the Iranian mullahs”. Her quoting of the views of Alexander Reid Ross, Jonathan Freedland, Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leil al-Shami to back up her arguments. Her dislike of Jeremy Corbyn, Noam Chomsky, Vanessa Beeley, Jill Stein, Max Blumenthal, Caitlin Johnstone, Roger Waters…
Lawless in fact generally shares the same likes and dislikes as whoever is behind the Wikipedia re-writing.
The “bad guys” are anyone who criticises the US empire and the “good guys” are all the cloned corporate hacks who furiously condemn them as “red-brown” pro-Russian fascists for daring to do so.
But there is more to the neoliberal attack on the real, anti-capitalist, left, than this spurious equation of anti-imperialism with nationalist or pro-Russian positions.
The other big ideological weapon in their armoury is the claim of anti-semitism and this is being rolled out with desperate regularity.
This has now gone far beyond questions around Israel or Zionism and is being used to vilify all direct opposition to the capitalist system.
Author and blogger Jonathan Cook remarks: “It is an indication of how quickly this slippage is occurring that repeating now a slogan of the Occupy Movement from only seven years ago – that we are ruled by a ‘global elite’, or the ‘1 per cent’ – is cited as proof of anti-semitism. The liberal New Statesman recently ran an article dedicated to proving that the articulation of basic socialist principles – including ideas of class war and the 1 per cent – was evidence of anti-semitism.”
He concludes that the mystification of anti-semitism is being used to prevent any criticism of “a turbo-charged neoliberal capitalism destroying our planet”.
A look at the article in question shows that he is right. Targeting Corbyn in particular – a real hate figure among neoliberals, presumably because he might win a UK general election – authors Matt Bolton and Frederick Harry Pitts condemn “his understanding of capitalism as a ‘a rigged system'” and declare that “if Corbyn is as serious as he says he is about militant opposition to anti-semitism, his worldview as it is may not survive intact. Rather, it must be radically revised and rethought”.
And whose words do they use to back up this insidious argument? None other than Daphne Lawless’s hero, the late Moishe Postone. The same old script!
The message of these various efforts is that if you don’t want to be called an anti-semite and a red-brown fascist, in “left-wing” articles and on Wikipedia, you will have to “radically revise” your anti-capitalism so that it suits the neoliberal fake-left agenda.
You will have to say that capitalism is not a rigged system, that a tiny elite ruling class does not hold all the wealth and power, that Israel is not a militaristic apartheid state, that the USA is not a warmongering imperial capitalist menace to the rest of the world.
You will have to say that two plus two makes five, otherwise the neoliberal thought police, posing as holier-than-thou fellow left-wingers, will be out to get you…
A startling insight into the ongoing US military occupation of the Japanese island of Okinawa has been published on the In The Fray website.
The article was written by Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson of Shoal Collective, a newly formed cooperative of writers and researchers writing for social justice and a world beyond capitalism.
More than six decades after America’s post-World War II occupation of Japan officially ended, more than 50,000 US troops remain there. Over half of them are stationed on Okinawa, an island with a population of 1.3 million, which the United States values as a strategic base close to China and North Korea.
Although few people outside of Japan know about it, demonstrations go on daily against the thirty-two US military bases and forty-eight training sites on Okinawa, which occupy about a fifth of the island’s land. The protests have been a feature of Okinawan life since the beginning of the US occupation in 1945 (which officially ended for most of the country in 1952, but not for Okinawa until two decades later).
From time to time the discontent has exploded into massive street demonstrations, often in response to violent crimes connected to military personnel, such as the 1995 rape of a twelve-year-old girl by three American soldiers and the 2016 rape and murder of a twenty-year-old woman by a former marine working as a contractor for the US military.
In the late 1990s, the US military and Japanese government announced plans to build a new helipad in the far north of Okinawa and relocate the aging Futenma air base to the Henoko district of Nago, a city near the island’s centre.
For a time, fierce public opposition stymied those plans, but after the conservative government of Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe took power in 2012, the work moved ahead. The plans for Henoko involve the expansion of the Marine Corps base already there, Camp Schwab, and the construction of a military runway in the waters of Oura Bay, which critics say will destroy coral reef and seagrass essential to the survival of aquatic life like dugongs, a manatee-like species of marine mammal.
Japan has remained militarily dependent on the United States ever since the postwar occupation, when it was forced to accept a new constitution banning it from building offensive forces, and its government has long supported the establishment of US military bases throughout the region.
Hiroshi Inaba, a sixty-seven-year-old Japanese peace activist, received an eight-month suspended prison sentence last year because of his work protesting the US military presence on Okinawa.
He told the Shoal journalists: “After the war, the US government thought that Okinawa could be a keystone in their policy against China. US occupation on the island lasted for twenty-seven years, and people used the dollar note. Okinawa wasn’t returned to Japan until 1972.
“More than 70 percent of US bases in Japan are in Okinawa. Okinawan people don’t want the US base construction, but they’re not being listened to. People here deserve democracy and human rights.
“Some people protest because they’re upset about nature being destroyed—others because of the noise pollution at night from the Osprey military helicopter flights, or because of the lack of democracy, or because [their] relatives were raped by US soldiers.
“Tell people what’s happening in Okinawa—that’s the thing I want people to do the most. A lot of people here can’t speak English, so they can’t tell the outside world what’s going on.”
How would the CIA go about making sure nobody in the English-speaking world could read a book which revealed some uncomfortable truths about its operations?
“It’s an old lesson that blacklisting and publicly banning books is counter-productive, and often leads to stronger sales long-term,” comments someone investigating this very issue.
A much better approach, they suggest, is to quietly “capture and kill” the offending volume. “This method requires a fake publisher, who acquires the rights and then simply refuses to sell the book.”
This seems to have been what has happened to a German best-seller by Udo Ulfkotte, the former editor of the well-known Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
His book Gekaufte Journalisten (Bought Journalists) drew on his own experiences in corporate media to explain how its editors are totally under the control of the neoliberal system. Those who do not play along either cannot get jobs at any news organization, or find their careers cut short.
Ulfkotte admitted himself collaborating with this US-led manipulation of “news” by planting stories in the media for the CIA.
He talked in English about his experiences of being wooed by powerful “Translatlantic organisations”, and his decision to go public, in this TV interview.
The book was a big hit in Germany and an English version, called Journalists for Hire: How the CIA Buys the News, was supposedly published in May 2017 by US-Canadian publisher Tayen Lane.
But it has never become available and Tayen Lane have not been forthcoming with information.
German publishers Kopp Verlag apparently told one enquirer: “Unfortunately, after signing the contract we have not heard from Tayen Lane, our letters and emails have gone unanswered.”
An American resident who became interested in the case recently searched out Tayen Lane’s offices and reported: “It was no surprise their office doesn’t actually exist. There’s no trace of Tayen Lane anywhere at the address they give.
“Conclusion: A fake publisher has quietly ‘captured and killed’ a German best-seller. How many other books are disappeared in a similar way? No one knows, except the ones doing the censoring.”
Udo Ulfkotte died from a heart attack on 13 January 2017 at the age of 56, while awaiting US publication of his book.
May 31, 2018. After we published the above article (last night) it was kindly brought to our attention that Udo Ulfkotte became notorious in his later years for his derisive comments about immigrants in Germany. We still think that the story of his book is worth telling, but we want to make it clear that we in no way support his anti-immigrant views and are not presenting him as any kind of political hero!
Five years after Winter Oak published his first book, The Anarchist Revelation, Paul Cudenec has set out the basic elements of the personal version of eco-anarchist philosophy he is developing in the face of a “hostile intellectual environment”.
He writes: “I regard industrialism as a facet of capitalism and therefore something that is necessarily anathema to anarchists. I wouldn’t term myself a ‘primitivist’, but I certainly hope for an end to the nightmare of industrial society and for a future where people can live in harmony with the natural world, growing and producing according to the needs of the community rather than for the profits of an exploitative few.
“I advocate a future society based not on money, economic ‘growth’ and technological ‘progress’, but on values. These values would be anarchist, of course – co-operation, equality and non-domination – but also, more broadly, involve the respect and appreciation of nature, beauty, quality, authenticity, simplicity, honesty, integrity and dignity.
“I am seeking to piece together a philosophy founded on nature and on our belonging to nature. This seems to frighten some urban-minded anarchists, but was in fact very much what Kropotkin was working on, particularly in Ethics.
“By a philosophy of nature, I don’t just mean environmentalist politics, but an understanding of the human mind, and the human culture it has created, founded on the fact that we are one small part of a greater organic whole, usually called ‘nature’. Our innermost mental structures and tendencies reflect that belonging: it is the canvas on which our human culture is painted.”
He explains he is consciously pursuing a holistic approach, focusing on “interconnections and correspondences” and the idea that we belong to a dynamic and living universe: “This is anarchist metaphysics! What could be more empowering, philosophically or politically, than realising that you are a temporary manifestation of a great organic whole, with all the freedom and responsibility this involves?”
A radical political space was briefly opened in central London on Sunday May 27. Kurdistan Place was occupied by friends of Anna Campbell in solidarity with the Kurdish Freedom Movement. In a statement, the occupiers said: “We want this space to enable learning about Kurdish culture and Kurdish liberation’s emancipatory politics. We also want this space to enable solidarity and anti-capitalist organising.” The first meeting there was held by the Anarchist Action Network and there were workshops on Kurdish language and dance plus a talk on anti-fascism before it was announced by @KurdistanPlace on Twitter that the occupation was ending on May 31.
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European police launched a new wave of repression against anti-capitalists on May 29, raiding addresses in Italy, Spain, France and Switzerland in connection with last year’s protests against the G20 in Hamburg, Germany. German public broadcaster NDR reported that apartments in Rome, Genoa, and Madrid were among those searched, including properties “linked to the left-wing scene”. The “Black Bloc” task force in Germany has been combing through police footage, CCTV recordings and private videos with the help of facial recognition software and geolocation data to track down dissidents.
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Protests against the 2018 G7 summit are due to get underway in Quebec City on June 8. Says the antiG7 site: “For the beginning of the G7 Summit, the elites of the world will gather in La Malbaie, isolated in their ivory tower protected by more than half a billion in security costs. They might as well stay there! Everyone in the world will be better off without them and that is why we intend to cut ties with the people creating our misery. Come join us! Meet us at 7:30AM SHARP in the parking lot of the Normandin on the corner of the François-De Laval and Sainte-Anne boulevards, in the Beauport borough, 5km northeast of downtown Quebec City.”
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A celebration of 50 years of resistance, campaigning and alternatives for a better world, despite 50 years of police opposition, spying and repression, is being staged in London in July. It will include a rally in Grosvenor Square at 1pm on Saturday July 7 and a conference and exhibition at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, on Sunday July 8.
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Ineos’s fracking protest injunction will be challenged at appeal court, after campaigners won their latest legal battle. Joe Corre (left) and Joe Boyd have described the move to stop protests as “unprecedented” and “draconian”. The injunction criminalises trespass and what is described as “unlawful and unreasonable obstruction of the highway”, including slow walking, climbing on vehicles and lock-on protests. Breaching the order risks prison, fines or seizure of assets. With Cuadrilla about to try the same approach, and the government threatening to remove decision-making on fracking from local authorities, the fracking mafia are clearly worried that the resistance is winning…
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A discussion on Radical Ecology is being staged by the UK’s Anarchist Federation in east London on Saturday June 9, as part of its AntiUniversity programme. It is taking place from 4pm to 6pm at Doomed Gallery, 65-67 Ridley Road, Dalston, E8 2NP.
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An analysis of the rise and future of the degrowth movement has been published by The Ecologist. Federico Demaria summarises the way that the French activist term décroissance entered the English-speaking world as ‘degrowth’ and the way it has been developing over the last decade, through various networks. He adds: “The alliances among these networks, and networks of networks, are fundamental to weave the alternatives and foster a deeply radical socio-ecological transformation. We could imagine it as a rhizome of resistance and regeneration.”
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Acorn quote: “Men once believed that the establishment of universal suffrage would guarantee the freedom of the people. That, alas, was a great illusion…”
A civil war is breaking out between the neoliberal system and anyone who dares to resist its global stranglehold on power and wealth.
The insight came this week from a supporter of the Zad autonomous zone at Notre-Dame-des-Landes in France, as an army of cops were sent in by the French state to destroy it, even though Macron’s government has abandoned plans to build a new airport there (see Acorn 40).
But it could have come from one of the many student occupations against the neoliberal French state, which have been coming under increasing attack from gangs of fascist thugs tacitly encouraged by the authorities, or indeed from the railway workers striking in the face of a Thatcher-style assault on the trade union movement.
It could equally have come from Kurdistan, from Palestine, from Catalonia, from Brazil… All across the world the “democratic” gloves are coming off, the “news” is revealing itself to be nothing but desperate propaganda, the “freedom” capitalism claims to deliver is being exposed to one and all as a hollow lie.
Dissident individuals challenging the Empire are systematically victimised, smeared and marginalised, while rebel movements are repressed with brute violence.
The attack on the Zad began under cover of darkness, in the early hours of Monday April 9. This long-planned assault involves 2,500 militaristic gendarmes, armoured vehicles, lorries, cattle trucks, helicopters, and hundreds of riot police on stand-by in nearby Nantes and Rennes.
Said Hervé Kempf on the Reporterre website: “The disproportionate means being used shows that what is being lived out at the Zad threatens the neoliberal system: the possibility of existing in a different way, of choosing co-operation rather than competition, of organising ourselves without hierarchies, of resolving conflicts with the police or judicial system, of sharing the commons in harmony with what we call nature, of living simply, of freeing ourselves from the servitude of money…
“Has this been achieved at the Zad? You couldn’t say that. But we are really trying and there is plenty of evidence to show that there truly is a magnificent alternative there, a window opened in the suffocating wall of capitalism. The mission of the 2,500 robocops sent by the banker president is to destroy all possibility of living differently.
“And it goes further than that. What’s happening at Notre-Dame-des-Landes is part of a general war being waged by the oligarchy against the world’s peoples. Current headlines show us how Lula, the spokesperson for the Brazilian poor, has been imprisoned after a bizarre legal process, or how the Israeli state has killed protesters and journalists in the Gaza Strip. These are the latest outbursts of a global wave of authoritarianism on the part of the ruling classes. Almost the whole of Latin America (Brazil, China, Argentina, Peru, Guatemala…) has come under the control of hardline regimes imposing the neoliberal agenda.
“In Egypt, in the Philippines, in Poland, in India, in dozens of countries, we find this same powerful force being used to defend the interests of the oligarchy and destroy the environment in the name of growth. Europe is moving more and more towards this new model of authoritarian oligarchy. A global civil war is in fact breaking out, a war being waged by the ruling classes against peoples dazzled in the headlights of globalisation and against any pockets of resistance to the capitalists’ shock strategy.”
“A person alienated from nature is alienated from and is destroying himself, and no system has shown this connection more clearly than capitalist modernity.
“The connections between the market economy, exploitation, destruction of nature, war and migration show what the result is when centralist and hierarchical systems try to subjugate nature.
“Instead of tackling the cause of the destruction of nature, capitalism itself, the symptoms are treated instead. The land must be defended or there will not be a place for the revolution.”
With the tragedy of the fall of Afrin to Turkish forces, and the death of Anna Campbell, a much-loved anarchist comrade from Sussex, these words from the Internationalist Commune of Rojava are a reminder of what is at stake in Kurdistan.
As at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, or in Chiapas, we have been witnessing one of those rare and beautiful flowerings of human autonomy and hope in the face of the relentless Machine of profit, greed and war that is destroying life and happiness in our world.
While sometimes the forces of Empire are happy to exploit certain struggles for their own short-term ends, they know they cannot allow them to flourish and thus encourage others.
They will always try to crush the tender shoots of resistance, unleashing their mercenary thugs and fascist puppets against us.
But resistance is life itself. It renews, shoots back up through the cracks in the capitalist concrete, time and time again, in different places, different generations, different forms.
Nobody struggles in vain. Nobody suffers in vain. Nobody dies in vain. Every banner waved, every street reclaimed, every offensive launched, is another seed planted in the soil of our victory over the capitalist system.
A call-out has been made for resistance to the 2018 G7 summit in Québec.
The neoliberal capitalist showpiece is taking place from June 8 to 9, and will convene seven of the most powerful countries in the world at the Manoir Richelieu in La Malbaie.
Say the anti-G7 resistance network in Montreal: “If we don’t choose to resist the State and the Bosses, we’re setting ourselves up once more for a passive role in the pageantry of this large-scale spectacle.
“In a luxurious manor protected by fences and the police, these misogynists will talk about gender equality; these militarists will talk about peace; these capitalists will talk about ecology – all without any effort to consult us.
“What the G7 Summits actually do is decide the world organization of the capitalist economy according to the interests of the banks, and the oil, agri-food, pharmaceutical, technological, armaments, and other large conglomerates.
“The G7 is proving to be one of the neoliberal states’ symbolic meetings that legitimize the richest 1% of the world’s population by creating and maintaining social and economic inequalities.
“All over the world, the workers, the unemployed, the stateless, the exploited, and those left behind in the capitalist system are indignant at this farce that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and refuse to let it be legitimized by those who benefit from it.
“We believe it is time to unite and refuse this absurdity to make our voices heard. It is time to mobilize, to protest, and to resist the system manipulated by the privileged!
“The status quo is death. Capitalism is creating global apartheid, imperialist war, and the destruction of life on Earth. Fear has to switch sides: let’s make our affinity groups and protest in June, together, against the G7.”
The RRAG7 will hold a festive collective march against the G7, extractivism, and borders in the evening on Thursday, June 7 in Quebec City. It is also calling for a day of disruption of the G7 summit on Friday, June 8 in the Quebec City area.
An English-language anti-G7 journal can be found here.
Acorn readers will probably have noticed for themselves that the UK media have been in all-out propaganda mode in recent weeks.
Whether it’s Syria or the Labour Party, Israel or Russia, the old-fashioned model of subtly biased journalism has been ditched in favour of a crude torrent of right-wing bile.
One enthusiastic participant in this wave of warmongering rhetoric has been a London outfit called 89up.
It describes itself as “Europe’s first impact agency”, adding: “We campaign for great causes, build technology, tackle complex problems & inspire action. We run campaigns to make the world a more open, pluralistic, and democratic place. Our services ensure that charities, NGOs and not-for-profits make real change.”
89up weighed into the “great cause” of whipping up hatred of Russia in February by submitting a report to MPs investigating the role of “fake news” which claimed that “Russian propaganda” had been crucial in the Brexit vote.
Tellingly, The Daily Maildescribed 89up not as an “impact agency” but as a “communication and social media analytics company”, creating the impression that they were somehow merely professional observers.
Then in March, 89up hit the headlines again with another fab idea for making the world “a more open, pluralistic, and democratic place”.
It was such a “great cause”, that 89up’s boss Michael Harris couldn’t resist congratulating himself on Twitter for having got it into The Daily Mirror. “I am so proud of this”, he boasted.
And what was the plan? Taking legal action to stop those dreadful Russians from hosting the World Cup this summer.
Sadly for Harris, the British public seemed to find this marvellous cause less than inspiring – at the time of writing, the first 11 days of fundraising had notched up a mere £90 of 89up’s £10,000 goal.
Harris was back in action on April 3, tweeting indignantly against any idea that the UK shouldn’t have escalated tensions against Russia in the absence of any actual evidence showing that they were behind the Salisbury poison case.
He profited from the opportunity to have a dig at the Labour Party, in language reminiscent of the Cold War propaganda against the USSR.
“So the UK shouldn’t have ‘escalated tensions’? Bearing in mind how pathetic the British government’s response was, calls for a weaker response by a Labour MP will be music to the Kremlin’s ears”
So the UK shouldn't have "escalated tensions"? Bearing in mind how pathetic the British government's response was, calls for a weaker response by a Labour MP will be music to the Kremlin's ears https://t.co/2hHUMNd1RS
Harris is the sole director of 89up, which owns Little Atoms, a magazine which defines its “duty” as “defending rationalism, science and free inquiry” and appears at first glance to be vaguely on the left.
However it in fact purveys a strangely skewed view of the world, as we remarked back in 2015.
In particular, its writers particularly resent any criticism of the USA and the neoliberal system it champions. And, of course, they can always be relied on to despise Uncle Sam’s current enemies, whether that be Putin, Assad or Corbyn.
So where exactly is Michael Harris coming from?
In a 2016 newspaper article extolling the virtues of billionaire George Soros, Harris felt obliged to declare an interest, admitting: “Yes, many of the campaigns I’ve worked on previously have been part-funded by Soros”.
His admiration for his sponsor remains intact in 2018. Harris tweeted on February 7 that Soros “is in my humble opinion one of the 20th centuries [sic] great heroes”.
Indeed, 89up’s site boasts that it was “the sole communications agency for Best for Britain”, the “Remain” pressure group funded by Soros.
Beyond that, Harris’s LinkedIn profile declares that he has “excellent political and media connections, with a strong knowledge of the workings of government and international bodies”.
This rather vague statement is obviously open to more than one interpretation.
His profile also states that he is “one of only two Britons to be selected for the prestigious US State Department ‘Young Leaders of the Future’ programme”.
A couple of top days out for anarchists are coming up. On Sunday May 6 there is the Norwich Anarchist Bookfair, from 2pm to 11pm at Bedfords Crypt, 1 Old Post Office Yard, Bedford Street, NR2 1SL. Then on Saturday May 12 it’s the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair, 11am to 6pm at City Academy, Russell Town Avenue.
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“It is time to name the disease. Capitalism is a cancer. And the only way to defeat this cancer is to completely transform our way of living and our way of thinking about ourselves.” So says US actor and activist James Cromwell in this online video interview.
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Seven myths about the police have usefully been outlined on the Gatorna website. 1. The police exercise legitimate authority. 2. The police are ordinary workers just like us; they should be our allies. 3. Maybe there are some bad apples, but some police officers are good people. 4. Police can win any confrontation, so we shouldn’t antagonize them. 5. Police are a mere distraction from the real enemy, not worth our wrath or attention. 6. We need police to protect us. 7. Resisting the police is violent—it makes you no better than them. Go to the site to see these myths duly debunked.
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Power Trip: Fracking in the UK is new hour-long video from Undercurrents which goes on to the frontlines of UK resistance to the toxic industry, from Sussex to Lancashire. It can be seen online here and there are public screenings on Thursday April 12 at SOAS university London, Thursday April 26 in Pulborough, Sussex, Wednesday May 9 in Manchester (TBC), Friday May 18 at St Paul’s West Hackney, London and the weekend of May 19-20 at Wood festival, Oxfordshire. To arrange a local screening contact Undercurrents via their website.
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Tuesday April 17 is International Day of Peasants’ Struggles and there will be a protest in Brussels under the slogan “Free Farmers from Free Trade Agreements! MERCOSUR, CETA, JEFTA are a deathblow!” Say organisers: “Breaches of peasant rights, which outrageously happen on a daily basis, are on the rise due to free trade agreements which only serve the interests of multinationals.” The protest starts at 9am at the Belgian city’s Schuman Roundabout.
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The nightmare assault on our countryside being carried out in the name of technological advance has reached new levels. It has now emerged that bringing high-speed mobile phone coverage and internet to rural Britain will require at least 400,000 extra masts, many of which will need to be 80ft high, experts have predicted. And this will all be in the name of 5G, which is aimed to imprison us within a totalitarian Internet of Things, involving everything from automated cars to smart meters tracking and controlling every detail of our home lives.
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England! I fucking weep for you. England, I could have died for you. But
Lazy corruption and the acceptance of third-rate propaganda has done for you
Eaten away at you…
And the Jerusalem of Blake’s imaginings
Has become a Photostat of an apartheid state
Third-rate, mean-spirited and devoid of blissful dreaming
Panic Room by The Mighty Ur
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Acorn quote: “The acceptance of progress meant replacing faith in the wisdom of our ancestors by the conviction of their ignorance”.