These last six months have been lonely and often desperate ones for those of us who have not swallowed the Covid agenda.
Not only have we seen our basic freedoms come under attack, but we have done so in the full and bitter knowledge that these draconian measures are not in the least bit necessary and not at all about “protecting” ourselves and our fellow citizens.
We have been assuaged with unrelenting fear-mongering propaganda that we know to be just that: even if we steer clear of corporate-state media, this is blasted out at us in the form of endless announcements, posters and notices and also mirrored grotesquely in the muzzled and cowed submission of those around us.
We have had to be braced for constant conflict with the state’s officials and eager vigilantes out to impose compliance with the humiliating collective punishments of “lockdown”, “social distancing” and masks.
We have had to think twice about voicing our opinions, for fear of inviting not just disagreement, but outright hostility, abuse, insult, contempt and rejection, even from those to whom we imagined we were personally or politically closest.
And we haven’t been able to look forward to any happier years ahead of us, because all that we once hoped for has been swept aside by a chilling nightmare vision of faceless robotic slavery under the ruthless jackboot of the Fourth Industrial Repression.
But now, at the end of the 2020 summer, something has changed.
The massive demonstrations that took place in several European cities on Saturday August 29, notably London and Berlin, have broken us out of our solitary confinement.
We can see plainly now that there are others out there thinking the same way as us. Thousands upon thousands of others!
Trafalgar Square in London was packed full of protesters, with estimates of as many as 35,000 or 40,000 people, who later moved on to fill Whitehall.
They managed to turn up through their own initiative, without party political, trade union or NGO organising, without fleets of hired coaches, promoted hashtags or XR-style media hype.
Of course, where the protest wasn’t simply ignored, it was always going to be smeared.
The “conspiracy theory” tag wasn’t hard to attach, given that David Icke was making a guest appearance, but that wasn’t enough of an insult for some.
So-called “leftists” and “anarchists” scrambled to share the same photo of a couple of men on the outer fringes of the square displaying (momentarily perhaps) a flag which apparently relates to the late and unlamented British Union of Fascists (disbanded 1940).
For these critics this single image was somehow triumphant proof that all the tens of thousands of people present were either “fascists” or being manipulated by fascists.
These clowns are unwilling or (more charitably) unable to grasp that we are witnessing a historic reshaping of the essential political divide, as foreshadowed in France by the Gilets Jaunes since 2018.
This is now, quite simply, about ordinary people standing up to the exploitative dictatorship of the global capitalist technocratic elite.
At this moment of enormous existential crisis for the freedom and well-being of humankind, all certainties around previous political classifications have been thrown out of the window.
As one participant put it: “We are left, we are right, we are young, old, black, white, we are the working class. And our eyes are open. Don’t believe the hype. The Unite For Freedom march was very diverse. We cannot afford to be divided any longer”.
This new 2020s wave of revolt is all about resisting the power of both big business and the state, with an understanding that these forces have now effectively merged.
Combined with its instinctive defence of freedom and real democracy, this makes it eminently compatible with common-sense anarchism of the old-fashioned variety, to which we subscribe.
If contemporary anarchists want to turn this potential into something more solid, then they are going to have to take off their protective mind-blinkers, brave the risk of political contamination from the Great Ideologically Unwashed, and get involved with the broad front.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr, JFK’s nephew, addressed the same issue in Berlin, where the authorities (both of state and of ideological correctness) have slapped a “far right” label on the whole broad-based protest movement on the basis of minority nationalist involvement.
He told a massive freedom rally that the US media would accuse him of having come to Germany to address thousands of “Nazis”, but declared that what he was seeing before him was “the opposite of Nazism”.
“I see people who love democracy, people who want open government, people who want leaders who are not going to lie to them. People who want leaders who will not make up arbitrary rules and regulations to orchestrate obedience of the population.
“We want health officials who don’t want financial entanglements with the pharmaceutical industry, who are working for us and not Big Pharma.
“We want officials who care about our children’s health and not about pharmaceutical profits or government control”.
It felt clear to us, when we wrote in advance about this weekend (see Acorn 59), that it was going to be huge and important. And so it has proved.
But what next? Various local demos are planned across England (for the latest info see the StandUpX website) and, north of the border, there will be a ‘Saving Scotland’ March on Holyrood.
The meet-up is near the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh at 1pm on Saturday September 5.
Saturday September 26 is being mentioned as the date of the next big protest in London.
As our comrades at the South Essex Heckler point out, though, large-scale set-piece demonstrations are not the be-all-and-end-all.
They write: “Sure, there’s a place for intelligently organised street protests and actions but more than that, there’s always a place for dispersed, sustained action that aims to sabotage and eventually bring down the existing order.
“We favour long term, dispersed action that will eventually crash the new (ab)normal. We’ve frequently posted about building the new world we want inside the shell of the increasingly dystopian one we’re forced to endure – now is the time to grab the opportunity to do just that”.
Delighted though we are at the numbers now expressing their opposition to the totalitarian New World Normal, we don’t want to create any false sense of complacency.
What we are witnessing is just the start of a worldwide uprising.
The totalitarian capitalist elite have been planning this coup for years, probably even decades, and they are not going to cave in at the drop of a hat, tinfoil or otherwise.
If ignoring and smearing the protest movement does not successfully quell resistance, then we can expect other forms of repression to be deployed.
Outright police-state brutality is a real possibility, as the people of Melbourne, Australia, have been experiencing.
But this will always be a double-edged sword for the authorities, which is why they haven’t immediately leapt into that mode everywhere.
If it becomes blatantly obvious that opposition to their “Great Reset” is being crushed by force, they will start to lose the majority consent which they have been so careful to build up with their propaganda.
The cat will be out of the bag and they will risk stirring up the anger of huge swathes of the population, particularly if the resistance can remain untainted by “right” or “left” labels.
So we can probably expect lots more propaganda, divide-and-rule and other classic British “counter-insurgency” tactics to be deployed, and fail, before the state feels it needs to play its final violent card.
There is a tough struggle ahead of us, that’s for sure, with no guarantee that we will succeed in seeing off and bringing down the dark forces of corporate transhumanist dictatorship.
But at least we have those images of the August 29 protest in our heads, images of people, all kinds of people, united by their capacity to grasp what is going on and their courage to stand up and oppose it.
People with different worldviews, from various backgrounds and all with their personal faults and failings, no doubt.
But also people with faces. People with minds of their own. People with principles.
Hope is rising that people are finally seeing through the neoliberal corona-lies and are ready to stand up to the 21st century tyranny of newnormalism.
With so many sold-out phoney rebels on the “left” openly backing the new totalitarianism, other people, from a wide range of backgrounds, have had to step forward and urge resistance to the nightmarish global dictatorship.
Many of these are rallying behind the banner of StandUpX (see Resistance Update and Acorn 58) which, as this article explains, has seen numbers on its protests shoot up from dozens to thousands. “The numbers are continuing to increase rapidly – hence why more events are taking place all across the UK”.
StandUpX say on their website: “We are living in a state of authoritarian control. We do not consent to Government social distancing measures infringing upon public and private life. We do not accept enforced masks. We do not accept a dictatorship of lockdowns, threats of lockdowns, and Covid Ghettos.
“Forced, coerced and mandated vaccinations violate the principles of the Nuremberg Code which states ‘any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned.’
“Humanity will be a mass science experiment profiting billions for pharmaceutical companies and their partners including Bill Gates.
“Tracking & Tracing is a total violation of personal privacy and freedom to associate. It is a digital Gestapo.
“To add to this oppression, the government is proposing a Health Passport, which is designed to track your health records, purchases and public activities including travel. It will not be temporary. It is the preliminary step to 24/7 tracking via an implantable chip.
“5G is necessary for the infrastructure of 24/7 Surveillance Tracking & Implantable Microchips. This is why our roads are currently being dug up to install the fibre cable network necessary for 5G. This is why trees, which block 5G signals (and help us breathe) are being chopped all over our cities. 5G is lethal to privacy as well as to health. We have no reason to believe 5G is safe”.
The imposition of mask wearing, at a time when the virus has all but disappeared, has already opened a lot of folk’s eyes to the fact that they are being conned.
The fact that masks seem to be intended as a permanent “new normal”, plus the threat of compulsory vaccination and further lockdowns, may prove enough to push thousands of others over the edge and into rebellion.
A big bank holiday weekend of protest is coming up in London.
On Saturday August 29, 12 noon at Trafalgar Square, a huge protest and march is planned by a broad coalition of freedom lovers.
The event is due to be addressed by a number of high-profile doctors who have courageously challenged the official propaganda narrative, including Dr Adil, Professor Dolores Cahill, Dr Andrew Kaufman (live video link) and Dr Kevin Corbet.
Natural nurse Kate Shemirani and Jeremey Corbyn’s brother Piers Corbyn are also lined up to speak.
There will be a video link with the latest mass protest in Germany, where earlier this month as many as a million people took to the streets of Berlin to defy newnormalism.
The very next day, Sunday August 30, a protest has been called for Notting Hill during the famous carnival – 12 noon at Portobello Road.
Sunday August 30 will also see a Stop New Normal protest in Bristol, in Castle Park from 12 noon.
Before then, there will be a ‘Protest to Protect our Children’ in Manchester on Saturday August 22, 1pm at Piccadilly Gardens and a Picnic in the Park n Leeds on Sunday August 23, 2pm in Hyde Park.
A week after the big weekend in the UK capital, on Saturday September 5, there will be a ‘Stand Up for the Children’ protest starting in Hyde Park, London, at 1pm and marching to the BBC studios.
Smaller weekly StandUpX events are currently being held in Bedford (every Saturday, 3pm, Russell Park), Bournemouth (every Saturday, 2-5pm, Bournemouth Town Hall), Norwich (every Saturday, 1pm, Eaton Park, Chapperfield Gardens) and Sheffield (every Saturday, 12pm, Town Hall Peace Gardens).
North of the border, there will be a ‘Saving Scotland’ March on Holyrood: meet-up near the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh at 1pm on Saturday September 5.
Say organisers: “Deliberate media-managed panic, fear and propaganda made the ‘virus’ seem like it could kill us all. It was a lie!
“End the illegal Coronavirus Act 2020 Tyranny. Scotland is being destroyed! Return our civil liberties”.
Germany remains the epicentre of the revolt against dictatorship (perhaps because historical memories are still relatively fresh), with even a chief inspector of police speaking out against the global big business coup.
A ‘Mask Se Azaadi’ campaign now also seems to be underway in India, with one protester declaring: “We are burning the masks. We will not wear any masks and neither will pay any fines. Because wearing masks leads to the spread of diseases. We are being made to wear masks to shut us up”.
We urge Acorn readers, wherever they are, to cast aside their fears and their ideological insecurities, take the plunge and get involved in the resistance to the newnormalist dictatorship.
“You will not be rewarded for it. You will be ridiculed and castigated for it. Your New Normal friends will hate you for it. Your New Normal family will forsake you for it. The New Normal police might arrest you for it. It is your responsibility to do it anyway”.
In the Middle Ages, with the outright slavery of the Roman Empire left behind, medieval rebels saw ahead of them a better future, one based on social justice, freedom and local autonomy.
They were on the path leading towards the light, towards genuine social progress rather than to the fake “progress” of technological sophistication and profusion.
But this didn’t go down well with the ruling class, who feared that their power and privilege would be lost for ever.
Instead of escaping from slavery into freedom, our ancestors therefore found themselves engaged in a Great Battle for the Future with the dark forces of tyranny.
Capitalism – the new form taken by malevolent ruling class domination – subjugated our ancestors by cutting them off from their sources of subsistence and autonomy.
Common land was confiscated – enclosed – making self-sufficiency impossible. Food could no longer be freely gathered or hunted, rivers could no longer be fished, wood for fuel could no longer be picked up in the privatised forests.
People were forced into the money system, forced to earn “wages” just to live, forced into factories and workhouses, reduced to craven dependency on the capitalist system.
In her book Caliban and the Witch, Silvia Federici describes the period as one of “relentless class struggle” in which “the medieval village was the theater of daily warfare”.
“Everywhere masses of people resisted the destruction of their former ways of existence, fighting against land privatization, the abolition of customary rights, the imposition of new taxes, wage-dependence, and the continuous presence of armies in their neighbourhoods, which was so hated that people rushed to close the gates of their towns to prevent soldiers from settling among them”.
In order to impose the New Normal of capitalism on the unwilling people, the power elite used what Federici terms “social enclosure”, a precursor of today’s “social distancing”.
She writes: “In pursuit of social discipline, an attack was launched against all forms of collective sociality and sexuality including sports, games, dances, ale-wakes, festivals, and other group-rituals that had been a source of bonding and solidarity among workers”.
“Taverns were closed, along with public baths. Nakedness was penalized, as were many other ‘unproductive’ forms of sexuality and sociality. It was forbidden to drink, swear, curse”.
In another striking parallel with the 2020s (and indeed the 1920s/1930s) the elite tried to create “a new type of individual” – a servile, malleable and thus profitable type.
The primary tool used by the ultra-rich minority to oppress the majority was, of course, the state.
Far from representing some kind of benign collective self-interest, as some absurdly persist in maintaining, the modern state emerged in the 14th century “as the only agency capable of confronting a working class that was regionally unified, armed and no longer confined in its demands to the political economy of the manor”.
Whether claiming to be fighting “heresy”, “witchcraft” or disorder, the ruling elite deployed all the violence and propaganda of its inquisitions, wars and laws to bring the population to heel. And, as we all know to our cost, it won that Great Battle for the Future.
But because its socipathic greed knows no end, because its “growth” is based on ever-increasing profit for the ultra-rich, it can never stop treading us further and further into the toxic industrial dust of its total control.
Today we have reached another key moment in history, when the ruling elite – under the feeble pretext of combatting a flu virus – hopes to essentially return us to the slave status we escaped a thousand years ago.
All its liberal pretence at “democracy” is going out of the window as the brutal reality of elite power becomes clear to those who have eyes to see.
There will be resistance, you can be sure of that, even if the advance disabling of certain potential sources of dissent means it may take a while for rebels to regroup and find their common voice.
Those of us who do resist will be embarking on another Great Battle for the Future.
This is our DIY translation of an article which appears in the July/August 2020 edition of the French-language print journal anarchie! under the title ‘Qui a peur de la mort?‘
The radiant and gleaming future presented to us by the promoters of 5G, ‘a world of infinite possibilities’, has finally revealed itself for what it is: while everyone was locked up in their homes and all dissent was set aside in the name of biopolitics, masts went up all over the place to deliver a new infrastructure with which the powers-that-be aim to do nothing less than transform the whole of society.
5G’s forced entry into our lives cruelly illustrates the fact that neither in conception nor design is it meant to contribute to the well-being of the vast majority who consume it, but that it is instead intended to increase the power of the tiny minority who produce it.
Moreover, if we look back over our shoulders; hasn’t it been the same thing with every new technological advance? From the first weaving looms to motor cars and nuclear energy, how many of these would never have happened if their indisputable necessity for our lives hadn’t been forced on us?
Considering the enormous means at the disposal of the telecommunicatios industry, which in recent years has come to dominate the political narrative in every corner of the world, you get the impression that every day a war is taking place on the stage of our refusal. Precisely because 5G logically comes across as a negative thing in the eyes of the exploited, since the future it is there to build is that of the dominant class, the system tries to resolve the contradiction by using propaganda, so that people welcome the decisions made for them. But they can’t make people feel satisfied with their lot unless they reduce them to the status of insignficant cogs in a phenomenon over which they have no say.
We are already aware (even if only intuitively) of the effects on our lives of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ invoked by the most enthusiastic experts: they are with us every day in latent form, bursting into reality each time that we catch a glimpse of another, still bigger, slice of nature eaten up by bulldozers. Each time that we realise that we have got used to the sight of a pylon or a nuclear power station. Each time that we notice to what extent the environment in which we live in is artificial and planned.
Awareness is spreading wider and wider of the fact that a technological future cannot halt the ongoing disaster, but is instead aimed at prolonging it.
Instead of opening up the horizon, it closes it down, trapping us in the eternal present. Instead of pointing to the possibility of living something completely different, it offers at the very most the certainty of surviving by managing the catastrophe.
You’d imagine the myth of ‘progress’ would today be riddled with cutting doubts… but no amount of televisual good faith can now stop people seeing the pile of corpses spat out every day on the other side of the world by the capitalist machine. And in the great cities of the ‘advanced’ (sic) world, the end result of two centuries of unquestionable progress has been an existence which is more locked-down, artificial and desperate than we have ever known before.
Only those who have totally surrendered to misery could contemplate without a feeling of dread the technological cages known as ‘smart homes’, the multiplication of ‘sensing systems’ to watch and record every detail of our movements or the alienation of lives directed by the algorithms of ‘virtual assistants’.
At the end of the day it is not just about 5G or the umpteenth new threat from technology. It is about totally refusing a world based on dominating others, that’s to say on war, on environmental destruction, on paid labour and other abominations, of which technology has become one of the cornerstones.
In truth, all of that – the bombarding of cities and spirits, the extinction both of the wild outdoors and of surges of spontaneity in our domestic lives, the state’s administration of its subjects, or the biopolitical lockdown of an entire population – all of that will only be possible if the internet is available everywhere.
That is why their emphasis on ‘connectivity’, both between individuals and between individuals and their environment, can only be understood as reinforcement of domination in every domain.
When they tell us to get closer together online, it is really business and the state that are coming closer to human experience: each interraction that takes place on their network is owned by their economy and power. We are obliged to live our everyday lives as if remotely, via more and more technological intermediaries, which put up a sort of screen between us and reality, dictating to us a certain rhythm, a certain behaviour and above all a certain pre-determined relationship with the world.
What is really at stake here, with the way we are being pushed in the direction in which things are going, even more so with the current acceleration of this process by 5G, is our very capacity to think and act autonomously.
Even as technology imposes itself as universal mediation, it paradoxically distances us from the world, in the sense that it derpives us of the moral and material means to understand it, reinvent it and affect it with our own direct, conscious action.
Indeed, the ‘smart’ concept is nothing other than the paradigm of a city, or dwelling-place, where human beings simply follow the directions provided by algorithms, without feeling the need to interrupt this with their own ideas or spontaneous actions born of their own free will… in other words a completely dead intelligence. An intelligence with no conscience.
On the back of D. Hunter’s first book, Chav Solidarity (Active 2019), which looked at life on the margins of working class Britain, this latest goes further and adds an additional layer of academic analysis into the, at times harrowing, bargain.
The series of ten essays with academic framing, plus a main narrative section, offer insights into queer methodologies; carceral abolition; class analysis; and auto-ethnography which as a terrain is a good fit for this work: “evocative, emotional, dialoguing and engaging writing…[which is]…closer to literature and art than to science”.
At times there is the temptation to rush the analysis which is interspersed and then rush back to the narrative, don’t, the two are integral.
Hunter’s early years could come straight out of an Alan Clarke drama and bear comparison to books like Alexander Masters’ biography, Stuart a Life Backwards; visceral, tortuous, no-holds barred, real life staring you squarely in the face. Muggings, ultra-violence, rape, robbery, incest, are laid bare and borne in occasionally beautiful, positive and counter-intuitive ways.
In this book, one of Hunter’s aims is to do more justice to the lives he dealt with in the first, which honed in on ‘marginalised’ communities. “I focus on the blood and bone of poor and working class people, and the ways in which the social and cultural context reproduces forms of class power… My writing is in a small way a form of activism.”
This honing down is to a ‘poverty class’ as something “distinctly less than the working class; something made of a group of people who should be stripped of their humanity, undeserving of basic dignity. The people who raised me, the people who I grew up around, the imprisoned, the sectioned, the house-less, the traumatised, those who worked in the illegal economies of sex and drugs, the white trash, and the black and brown inner-city youth”.
The often shocking acts of violence that are documented throughout Tracksuits, Traumas and Class Traitors – acts which are carried out by the author, against him and he as witness – are viewed with recognition of the political, economic and social systems in which they occur – a vital sequitur.
That he’s been given “the space, care and time to focus on recovering, that my behaviours have been anything close to the result of conscious decisions. But it’s this experience that leads me to feel compassion towards the person who has caused me the greatest harm, the legacy of which it’s doubtful I’ll ever recover”.
Here he refers to the patriarch of the family, his grandfather. And it is here we look to the restorative powers of transformative justice (TJ) and its liberatory approach to violence; seeking safety and accountability within families and communities and not alienation, punishment, state violence of prison and policing without. The bitter fruits of industrial capitalism.
We are brought to The Bay Area TJ collective in Oakland California where a pod approach is practised within the community while seeking safety and accountability front, left and centre.
These anarchistic, positive, grassroots, small scale initiatives are all about “entering into dialogues that engage with the inequity in our networks. [It] is vital in our attempts to end the reproduction of carceral and capitalist logics. If we do this, we will be able to create spaces which encourage openness and intimacy, from which we can build deep solidarity with one another”.
A deep solidarity he had rarely with his own father and more often with neighbours: the one rare moment of filial connection, playing football…”he was playing with a desperation to connect with me, to find that paternal bond; instead I imagine he was beating people, he was beating other men in a socially approved way, in a manner that those watching could not take away from him easily. I was playing for that bond, the desperation that coursed through my veins then, that wanted the world and its dog to see us together playing, moving in synchronicity with one another. I wanted that synchronicity, that connection, to last forever. It did not make it past the afternoon”.
And then we get to hear of extraordinary acts of kindness towards D and his family from neighbours– “the man who ran the Jamaican takeaway that gave me the fried chicken… For over four years, he supplied us with fried chicken, hot, rice ‘n’ peas, and many, many dumplings. I could go over there at any point during their opening times and he would supply me with a bag of food to take back to the flat”.
The book’s final segment looks at social work: “As Loïc Wacquant has pointed out,
government programmes, which set out to address poverty or more accurately address the poor, working class, have as their primary function the marking of the poor as pathological, enabling the state to criminalise poverty and the bodies of the poor. This process plays a key role in the stigmatisation of poor and working class people”.
This stigmatisation breeds new exploitation with new forms of media-manufactured class differentiation and antagonism.
Through all of this Hunter’s heart stays embedded in his working class roots and he selflessly seeks “to connect some dots and ensure that everyone who had asked for some cash [from the fruits of his first book] received some, and in some cases, set up regular payments for the duration of the social shutdown. I don’t say this to big myself up, I was in a fortunate position to have enough social capital to connect those with plenty to those with not enough”.
(Jan Goodey is a regular contributor to the Ecologist online)
Thoreau’s best-known work is Walden, a description of his attempt to put his thinking into practice by living for more than two years in the woods of his native Massachusetts, USA.
He explained: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived”. (1)
Part of the appeal for him was undoubtedly to be alone, to escape the crowds and babble of the modern world, for which a certain loss of comfort was a price well worth paying: “I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion”. (2)
Thoreau frequently stressed the importance of living unencumbered by the trappings of the modern world – “Simplify, simplify”, (3) he urged. “Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life?” (4)
It was not just that we did not need these trappings of wealth, but that they were actually bad for us.
He wrote in Walden that most of the luxuries and so-called comforts of life were not at all necessary, but were in fact “positive hinderances to the elevation of mankind” (5) and he added in ‘Civil Disobedience’: “Absolutely speaking, the more money, the less virtue”. (6)
Thoreau noted that the wisest of people had historically often lived in the simplest of ways and was convinced that this was all part of their wisdom.
“To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust. It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically”. (7)
On the other hand, the rich had “accumulated dross”, did not know how to get rid of it and had thus “forged their own golden or silver fetters”. (8)
Thoreau was interested in Hindu philosophy and also, in Walden, cites the Taoist wisdom of Chuang Tzu.
He pre-empted René Guénon in his view that the modern world represented a reign of quantity where quality, particularly inner quality, was completely neglected. He noted: “While civilization has been improving our houses, it has not equally improved the men who are to inhabit them”. (9)
Contemporary America “lives too fast” (10) he said. Commerce, communication and transport were all regarded as essential issues, but people were less interested in “whether we should live like baboons or like men”. (11)
Thoreau was more than sceptical about the point of industrial progress and all the so-called “modern improvements” it brought with it, writing that “there is an illusion about them; there is not always a positive advance”. (12)
He added: “Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which it was already but too easy to arrive at; as railroads lead to Boston or New York. We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate”. (13)
The much-heralded cable under the Atlantic would, he suggested, only succeed in bringing Americans worthless gossip such as news of the latest illnesses affecting the British Royal Family.
“As if the main object were to talk fast and not to talk sensibly… the man whose horse trots a mile in a minute does not carry the most important messages”. (14)
Twenty years later, John Ruskin was to make the same point when he described the new railway allowing the people of Buxton and Bakewell to rush from one town to the other and back in record time and for no apparent purpose.
Thoreau was also acutely aware of the human cost of industrialism, including the thousands of human lives lost in the building of the railways, the first major infrastructure of American capitalism.
He wrote: “We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us. Did you ever think what those sleepers are that underlie the railroad? Each one is a man, an Irishman or a Yankee man. The rails are laid on them, and they are covered with sand, and the cars run smoothly over them”. (15)
An outspoken opponent of the American institution of slavery, which was not formally abolished until after his death, Thoreau also turned his fire on the “factory system” that had been imported across the Atlantic.
He wrote: “The condition of the operatives is becoming every day more like that of the English, and it cannot be wondered at since, as far as I have heard or observed, the principal object is, not that mankind may be well and honestly clad, but, unquestionably, that the corporations may be enriched”. (16)
Against this world of money-greed and exploitation, Thoreau proposed a modest and inward-looking life in the bosom of nature.
The dust that accumulates on any object inside a house symbolised for him the choking effect of modern life on human beings and he declared: “I would rather sit in the open air, for no dust gathers on the grass, unless where man has broken ground”. (17)
Thoreau’s belief in the importance of being close to nature implied that our very thinking should emerge from that nature and effectively amount to a continuation of its unspoken wisdom.
He wrote in ‘A Natural History of Massachusetts’: “To him who contemplates a trait of natural beauty no harm or disappointment can come. The doctrines of despair, of spiritual or political tyranny or servitude, were never taught by such as shared the serenity of nature”. (18)
In this essay he described the “ghost leaves” produced by hoar frost and was prompted to reflect on the inherent form within the natural world.
He wrote: “It struck me that these ghost leaves, and the green ones whose forms they assume, were the creatures of but one law; that in obedience to the same law the vegetable juices swell gradually into the perfect leaf, on the one hand, and the crystalline particles troop to their standard in the same order, on the other.
“As if the material were indifferent, but the law one and invariable, and every plant in the spring but pushed up into and filled a permanent and eternal mould, which, summer and winter forever, is waiting to be filled”. (19)
He added: “Vegetation has been made the type of all growth; but as in crystals the law is more obvious, their material being more simple, and for the most part more transient and fleeting, would it not be as philosophical as convenient to consider all growth, all filling up within the limits of nature, but a crystallisation more or less rapid?” (20)
Here he raises one of the key elements of organic radical thinking: that there is an implicit order within nature as a whole and all its parts, including humans, which emerges from within and steers our development.
Thoreau wrote: “I perceive that, when an acorn and a chestnut fall side by side, the one does not remain inert to make way for the other, but both obey their own laws, and spring and grow and flourish as best they can till one, perchance, overshadows and destroys the other. If a plant cannot live according to its nature, it dies; and so a man”. (21)
This realisation, drawn from his observation of plants and frost, formed a nature-sourced philosophical basis for his libertarian political views.
If people were not able to live according to their nature in the contemporary world, it was because of the state and its laws.
Thoreau wrote, in ‘Civil Disobedience’: “I heartily accept the motto, ‘That government is best which governs least’; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically.
“Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also I believe – ‘That government is best which governs not at all’; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have”. (22)
He observed: “Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice”. (23)
Thoreau had direct experience of the power of the state, which jailed him for refusing to pay his poll tax for six years, and was struck by the “foolishness” of the thick walls and doors with which it countered his principled stance.
He wrote: “The State never intentionally confronts a man’s sense, intellectual or moral, but only his body, his senses. It is not armed with superior wit or honesty, but with superior physical strength. I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest”. (24)
When Thoreau insisted that “the only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think is right”, (25) this may sound simply like rugged individualism.
But the use of the term ‘right’ indicated that he was in fact referencing a collective sense of right and wrong, one sourced from his inner human nature.
Like the anarchist psychoanalyst Otto Gross, Thoreau saw how a person who tried to live according to that nature, who remained true to their innate moral compass, was bound to come into conflict with an outside civilization founded on power, money and lies.
Our duty was to allow the sense of rightness that swelled within us to overcome the demands and expectations of a world become corrupt and not to find cowardly excuses to avoid doing so.
He wrote: “All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable. But almost all say that such is not the case now”. (26)
He urged us to follow the obligation deep within us to be true to ourselves and the natural world of which we are part: “Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine”. (27)
1. Henry David Thoreau, Walden, with an introduction by Richard Whiteing (London: The Gresham Publishing Company, n/d), p. 109.
2. Thoreau, Walden, p. 42.
3. Thoreau, Walden, p. 110.
4. Thoreau, Walden, p. 111.
5. Thoreau, Walden, p. 15.
6. Henry David Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau: Revised Edition, ed. Carl Bode (London: Penguin, 1975), p. 123.
7. Thoreau, Walden, pp. 15-16.
8. Thoreau, Walden, p. 17.
9. Thoreau, Walden, p. 39.
10. Thoreau, Walden, pp. 110-11.
12. Thoreau, Walden, p. 61.
14. Thoreau, Walden, pp. 61-62.
15. Thoreau, Walden, p. 111.
16. Thoreau, Walden, p. 30.
17. Thoreau, Walden, p. 42.
18. Henry David Thoreau, ‘A Natural History of Massachusetts’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 33.
19. Henry David Thoreau, ‘A Natural History of Massachusetts’, The Portable Thoreau, pp. 52-53.
20. Thoreau, ‘A Natural History of Massachusetts’, The Portable Thoreau, pp. 53-54.
21. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 127.
22. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 109.
23. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 111.
24. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 127.
25. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 111.
26. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 113.
27. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 120.
Resistance continues against the disastrous HS2 rail line between London and Birmingham. Says the HS2 Rebellion website: “HS2 is one of the largest and most damaging infrastructure projects our country has ever seen and is representative of everything we are seeking to change within this toxic system”. For info on protest camp locations and how to help go to https://hs2rebellion.earth/camp-locations/
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Wangan and Jagalingou Tribal Warriors in Australia have served mining giant Adani with an eviction notice for illegally trespassing on their land with its Carmichael Coal Mine. They say: “This eviction notice marks the start of a new phase of our resistance to Adani’s destruction of land, water and culture”.
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This Spanish TV interview with a doctor went horribly wrong for the corporate propagandists, as the interviewee tore holes into the official smearmongering and its blatant vaccine-profiteering agenda. A real breath of fresh air!
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“It will be done in a barbaric fashion using draconian methods and this global holocaust will probably come out from under the flag of the UN… Wake up now!” So says a character in One By One, the last ever film to feature the late Rik Mayall. Meanwhile the latest Plandemic film has been getting a lot of attention. Note that one of these is labelled fiction and the other not, but we will let readers decide for themselves how that works out!
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“This is the essence of the biosecurity state, in which the citizen no longer has the right to life (familial, social, economic, political), but in which the state has absolute power over the biopolitical body of the subject”. Another hugely impressive article by Simon Elmer
of Architects for Social Housing can be read here.
* * *
A warning against the Big Pharma vaccine agenda has been issued in Cyprus. Says the author: “The so-called ‘cases’ of healthy people are exactly what each community needs to cope with the crisis. But the ‘scientific team’ is trying to reduce this natural immunity that the community is now building, because – they have made it very clear – they prefer to pursue mass vaccination”.
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The dystopia of the Fourth Industrial Repression is arriving faster than any of us could imagine. In Basildon, Essex, for instance, the council has announced it will be starting a six-month trial of the use of drones to help with planning enforcement. Local activists’ fears of “mission creep” are supported by news from Melbourne, Australia, where the increasingly fascistic cops are already using drones to spy on citizens to make sure they don’t break “lockdown” rules. Will people start developing DIY anti-drone devices in response? Jamming the frequencies? Using catapults even?
* * *
Canadian constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati is taking out a lawsuit against his government, describing the COVID measures as “the biggest example of misinformation and lies on a global scale that we’ve seen”.
* * *
Another glorious triumph for technological Progress has been announced, with scientists apparently having discovered a “ground-breaking” bio-synthetic material that they claim can be used to merge artificial intelligence with the human brain. This “breakthrough” is described as “a major step towards integrating electronics with the body to create part human, part robotic ‘cyborg’ beings”. Marvellous news for life haters everywhere.
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The next phase in the global techno-fascist coup, particularly if resistance picks some momentum, is likely to be full-out censorship of dissident views. We are still very much present on Twitter, but with some anti-establishment groups already being expelled from social media, we have created a back-up account on Mastodon, which can be found here.
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Acorn quote: “The great ability of those who are in control in the modern world lies in making the people believe that they are governing themselves”.
These are not easy times in which to be alive if, like us, you cherish freedom and truth.
The last few months have seen us dragged into a nightmarish totalitarian world.
No sooner had “lockdown” been lifted, than masks were imposed. The spectre of a compulsory “vaccine” hovers darkly on the horizon.
All this symbolism of submission, of craven conformism and dehumanised obedience, would be hard to take at the best of times.
But when all of this naked authoritarianism is justified by blatant lies, the situation becomes still more outlandlish.
The “science” behind this medical strategy of tension is so flimsy that one would imagine that all but the dullest of TV-addicted sofa spuds would see right through it.
But, for many, believing the official version seems to have become an article of faith, a central part of their initiation into the sinister “new normal”.
In order for this psychological surrender to authority to be effective, maybe the message had to be obviously false, in the same way that Winston Smith’s torturer in Nineteen Eighty-Four is obviously holding up four fingers rather than five.
What is important for our rulers is that obedient goodthinking citizens believe anything they are told, no matter how absurd.
A further twist of the knife has come from the way that people we assumed we knew, people we imagined shared our basic ideals, have turned out to be something else.
Liberty-loving rebels, long-term opponents of the capitalist system, have suddenly become authoritarian robots, mindlessly repeating the lies and demands of the system.
Worse still, they turn on those of us who have remained consistent in our principles and accuse us of having somehow drifted into unacceptable political territory!
It comes as no comfort to have seen much of this coming, whether in the shape of the increasing authoritarianism of the neoliberal system or the dangerous narrowing of political thinking on the left.
In truth, the scale and speed of what has happened has left us gasping for breath.
Where do we go from here?
We can all, of course, keep on resisting the dictatorship in hundreds of small ways, most importantly by sharing our views and analysis with others in the virtual and real worlds.
But we can also start thinking about what our long-term resistance is going to look like, what kind of movement might emerge to fight the new white-coated fascism and the Fourth Industrial Repression it has unleashed on us.
In thinking about this future movement, we can all help to create and shape it.
To this effect, we invite Acorn readers to share their thoughts with us, not so much in the form of articles for publication (though we also welcome those!), as in an informal way.
Our email address is winteroak(at)greenmail.net and we look forward to hearing from you soon.
Protecting the environment has surely got to be A Good Thing.
Creating “protected areas” for nature in various parts of the world might therefore seem to be a positive move.
However, when these areas are being promoted by the same capitalist system which brought nature to her knees in the first place, the alarm lights start flashing!
“Protected Areas” are in fact one aspect of the global capitalist scam being sold to us under the label of the ‘New Deal for Nature’.
Because, in typical capitalist style, this scam has been wrapped up in shiny green packaging and promoted by the well-known WWF, the New Deal for Nature initially attracted little opposition.
But in recent weeks, thanks to the truth-spreading efforts of the No Deal for Nature campaign and its supporters, support has been slipping away.
The human rights charity Survival International has been doing a great job of blowing the whistle on what is nothing other than a new phase of industrial capitalist imperialism, aiming to displace indigenous peoples and further exploit Mother Nature for the profit of the usual tiny and greedy elite.
Warns Survival director Stephen Corry: “The latest idea to be heavily promoted by big conservation NGOs is doubling the world’s so-called ‘Protected Areas’ (PAs) so that they cover thirty percent of the globe’s lands and oceans.
“This is now their main rallying cry and response to two of the world’s biggest problems — climate chaos and loss of biodiversity.
“It’s a marketing gimmick designed to funnel even more money to those who have for decades demonstrated their failure to mitigate either climate change or biodiversity loss.
“Many PAs aren’t really protected at all. They include industrial exploitation — mining, logging, plantations, trophy hunting concessions, or extensive, usually high-end, tourist infrastructure.
“The locals are thrown out as the land is grabbed by one or other industry, partnering with one or other big conservation NGO.
“It’s a new colonialism, the world’s biggest land grab, supposedly ‘green’ and supposedly to save the world — a really big lie. As Odette, a Baka woman from Congo, says of such imposed conservation projects which don’t work, ‘We’ve had enough of this talk of ‘boundaries’ in the forest. The forest is ours’.”
The alert is also being sounded via the World Rainforest Movement, notably in a statement entitled “Protected Areas feed corporate profiting and destruction”.
This explains: “PAs are heavily promoted by conservation NGOs, governments and corporations. The NGOs want as much money as possible to maintain their dominance over more and more of the world’s surface, which they see as threatened by locals.
“Governments hate self-sufficient people who are difficult to tax and control and who tend to be sceptical about the state’s claim to override the community. Corporations look for more consumers, and to extract more raw materials, often from ‘wilderness’. They need places where they can claim to ‘offset’ carbon, to greenwash their image as much as possible.
“The result is that billions of dollars of taxpayers’ money are funnelled into conservation areas that ignore all checks about upholding human rights, which are routinely violated there. Most such projects are run by NGOs, profit-making private companies, or both. They are established in collaboration with logging, extractive industries, trophy hunting, tourism concessions, and agribusiness.
“They take the land which has long sustained a way of life for local people and refashioned it to churn out profit for a few outsiders. In some areas, there is a clear overlap of, for example, mining concessions with protected areas.
“Conservation NGOs are, at least in part, controlled by the corporate bosses who sit on their boards, partner with, and fund them, why expect anything different?”
We urge readers to support the No Deal for Nature campaign in any way they can.
As English speakers, we have access to a wide range of material to inform our analysis of the Coronavirus situation.
But this privilege sometimes allows us to forget the important contributions to the discussion made in other languages.
We are grateful to the friends who have shared with us their translations of several German-language articles, which we have made available via this site.
The first document calls for an immediate end to all Corona measures and a committee of inquiry to uncover all errors and deception.
It looks at why masks are harmful, useless and degrading and why all “protective measures” were – and are – senseless from the outset.
“The lockdown has more dead people on its conscience than Covid-19!”, it adds.
It cites the famous 80-page evaluation of the Corona measures by Oberregierungsrat K., deputy head of the department for crisis management (critical infrastructure protection) in the Federal Ministry of the Interior: “The observable effects and impacts of Covid19 do not provide sufficient evidence (solid evidence) that it is more than a false alarm in terms of health effects on society as a whole”.
And it includes this nice line: “This killer virus is very special and is mainly transmitted by television, radio and newspapers”.
‘The Science Fraud by Prof. Christian Drosten‘ focuses on the high-profile German virologist and also assesses his UK counterpart: “Neil Ferguson is the ghost in the machine. The machine is the World Health Organization and the CDC. The man behind the ghost is Bill Gates”.
This analysis by Dr. Stefan Lanka also takes Prof Dorsten to task. “Neither he, nor the virologists of the CCDC, nor others have demonstrably carried out these necessary control experiments to date and if they have, they have not published them… The moment this attempt is carried out and published, the Corona crisis is immediately over”.
Finally, this July 4 article, originally from Diamenten magazine (“for freedom and a self-determined life”), says that leading Corona researchers admit that they have no scientific proof of the existence of a specific virus. “Rumours and lies have created a pandemic, although there was no evidence!”
“For the Outsider, the world into which he has been born is always a world without values. Compared to his own appetite for a purpose and a direction, the way most men live is not living at all; it is drifting. This is the Outsider’s wretchedness, for all men have a herd instinct that leads them to believe that what the majority does must be right. Unless he can evolve a set of values that will correspond to his own higher intensity of purpose, he may as well throw himself under a bus, for he will always be an outcast and a misfit”. So wrote Colin Wilson in his important and best-selling 1956 book The Outsider. Wilson died seven years ago, but not until Acorn contributor Jan Goodey had secured an interview with him, which we are pleased to feature here.
When interviewed in 2001, original angry young man and all-round iconoclast Colin Wilson had lost none of the bite that made his name back in the Fifties and Sixties.
A simple throwaway comment on Aleister Crowley was seized upon with acerbic relish, “He was a shit and one of the only people I wrote about who I would not have wanted to meet.”
In his seventies then, Wilson was happily ensconced in Cornwall which became his haven when the media glare became all too much back in the days when the papers would call him ‘a genius’ and run a story on him being spotted outside a cinema, all in the same day. “Well who the fuck cares” his comment relating to the latter.
On a day in 1956 Wilson woke up and found himself lauded and a best-seller. His book The Outsider had come out in the same week as John Osbourne’s play Look Back In Anger. The book featured chapters on various writers, including Herman Hesse, outside the mainstream and influenced by great, arcane Eastern mysticism.
It was counter-cultural to the prevailing philosophies of the time: linguistic analysis, logical positivism and Marxism. For a few weeks they weren’t sure whether to call this new generation of writers Angry Young Men or Outsiders and Wilson was feted by his contemporaries, including Kingsley Amis and Francis Bacon.
It was a break for a working class lad who’d never been to university, always been broke, worked in factories and coffee houses and even slept out on Hampstead Heath to save rent. “My ‘success’ itself was an absurd paradox;” he later wrote, “I was being rewarded for telling society how much I detested it.”
The English press’s long-held reputation of building people up to knock ’em down again was something Wilson soon found out about – close quarters. The feeling of destestation could be more than reciprocated.
One of the first to wield the knife was fellow philosopher AJ Ayer who did “a filthy stinking review of The Outsider,” said Wilson. Others followed suit, taken aback that a provincial hick could turn the London literary scene upside down with his first book.
With the Beats espousing stream of consciousness bacchanalia and the Existentialists, alienation, Wilson was neither one nor the other, and eventually sought sanctuary, first in France then Cornwall: “I suppose it’s like this girl Anne Robinson (UK celeb/news journalist) who was initially very highly regarded, but now is attacked by a lot of people maybe because she’s too famous. I went to Paris to meet Camus. He was going to do an introduction to my second book but was then killed in a car crash.”
Wilson saw himself following in the tradition of Sartre and Camus, and took up a position he described as New Existentialism, proceeding from many of their assumptions but rejecting alienation in favour of a life-affirming view: the individual free to forge meaning for him/herself: “Someone once called me our only home grown existentialist. At the time when people like Ayer were saying that questions about the meaning of life were meaningless I was feeling that they’re the only questions worth answering. What the hell are we doing here?”
The answer wasn’t Christianity, although he was tempted by Catholicism until he took instruction and discovered it to be “a lot of shit”. Wilson on Jesus is interesting in itself: “I don’t believe that Jesus died on the Cross for the sin of Adam. We know pretty certainly that Jesus himself didn’t think so, that he was a member of a reformist group. and this was so hated a group by Jews and Romans that he got crucified. He would have been shocked by the notion that he was the Son of God.”
No, the answer for Wilson lay partly in the occult – he believes we are on the verge of an evolutionary leap to a higher stage,- about to come something more than man/woman. In essence a positive outlook and it was in keeping with his view of himself as the first genuine optomistic philosopher in the Western tradition.
And if you ever catch yourself asking from where the New Age interest in all things mystical, springs: “In a word me, I started it all,” said Wilson, ever so slightly mischievious.
Colin Wilson (1931-2013)
(Jan Goodey is a regular contributor to the Ecologist online)
“Modern technology has led to the concentration of economic and political power”
Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) was a philosopher and writer who consistently opposed the industrial and commercial thinking of Western capitalism.
He is best known for his 1931 novel Brave New World, which depicts a dystopic future society built on American-style consumerism.Writing to his brother Julian in August 1918, Huxley predicted that one of the most deplorable consequences of the First World War would be “the inevitable acceleration of American world domination” and warned repeatedly in the 1920s that “the future of America is the future of the world”. (1)
David Bradshaw writes that the “World State” of Brave New World was clearly conceived “as a satire on the global diffusion of the American way of life”. (2)
Huxley’s future hell does not need the machineries of a violent police state to keep its population under control, because its domination reaches deep inside people’s heads.
As he remarked: “A really efficient totalitarian state would be the one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.
“To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and school teachers”. (3)
In Huxley’s dystopia, as in our own industrial capitalist world, everything is judged according to its contribution to “economic growth”.
He explains in the novel that at a previous stage of the Brave New World the lower castes of society had been conditioned to like wild flowers and nature – for a very specific reason: “The idea was to make them want to be going out into the country at every available opportunity, and to compel them to consume transport”. (4)
But this conditioning had been dropped because landscapes and flowers lay outside the all-important economy: “A love of nature keeps no factories busy. It was decided to abolish the love of nature, at any rate among the lower classes”. (5)
The same productivist mentality inspires the imaginary society’s love of games and sports involving lots of complicated equipment.
Reflects one character: “Strange to think that even in Our Ford’s day most games were played without more apparatus than a ball or two and a few sticks and perhaps a bit of netting. Imagine the folly of allowing people to play elaborate games which do nothing whatever to increase consumption. It’s madness”. (6)
The consumer impulse is etched into each new generation’s minds by recorded voices played over and over again to children in their nurseries: “The voices were adapting future demands to future industrial supply. ‘I do love flying,’ they whispered. ‘ I do love flying. I do love having new clothes’… ‘But old clothes are beastly,’ continued the untiring whisper. ‘We always throw away old clothes. Ending is better than mending, ending is better than mending, ending is better…’” (7)
This brainwashing takes on a more obviously ideological shape for teenagers, as revealed when the character Lenina insists that “progress is lovely, isn’t it?” and Bernard remarks wearliy: “Five hundred repetitions once a week from thirteen to seventeen”. (8)
For most people in contemporary Western capitalist society, even those who consider themselves dissidents, it seems likewise to be a deeply conditioned self-evident truth that “progress is lovely”.
Those same people often share another of the basic convictions of the Brave New World: that there is no underlying human nature which could allow us to develop freely without the lifelong tight control of authority.
The character Mustapha Mond declares: “As if one believed anything by instinct! One believes things because one has been conditioned to believe them”. (9)
Although Huxley’s dystopia is often contrasted with the one put forward by George Orwell in Nineteen Eighty-Four, deep-down they are not as different as all that – and a hatred of “oldthink” is common to both nightmare regimes.
Huxley imagines a “campaign against the Past” that had involved “the closing of museums, the blowing up of historical monuments (luckily most of them had already been destroyed during the Nine Years’ War); by the suppression of all books published before AF. 150”. (10) The Brave New World, like the Western industrial-capitalist society which it mocks, is generally opposed to too much thinking and reading. After all: “You can’t consume much if you sit still and read books”. (11)
Books and ideas are regarded as particularly dangerous if they are “old” – that is to say, if they come from an intellectual world beyond the narrow bubble of its own cretinous consumer-conformism.
At one point in the novel, a leader of this society is asked why the work of William Shakespeare has been banned.“The Controller shrugged his shoulders. ‘Because it’s old; that’s the chief reason. We haven’t any use for old things here’. ‘Even when they’re beautiful?’. ‘Particularly when they’re beautiful. Beauty’s attractive, and we don’t want people to be attracted by old things. We want them to like the new ones’”. (12)
Huxley went on to deepen his anti-Western, anti-capitalist philosophy by exploring the “old” philosophies cast aside by the modern world. At the end of the Second World War he explicitly identified himself with the Perennialist movement which had been formed by René Guénon, Ananda Coomaraswamy, Frithjof Schuon and others.
The title of his 1945 work The Perennial Philosophy made this clear enough, and Huxley listed no fewer than three books by Guénon in his bibliography.
As well as exploring the roots of this philosophy, particularly in the East, Huxley applied its ethos to the modern world around him and, unsurprisingly, found that contemporary “wisdom” represented pretty much the opposite of all that is considered of value by the inherited wisdom of humankind.
The cult of technology came under specific attack: “Technological idolatry is the religion whose doctrines are promulgated, explicitly or by implication, in the advertisement pages of our newspapers and magazines – the source, we may add parenthetically, from which millions of men, women and children in the capitalist countries derive their working philosophy of life…
“So whole-hearted is the modern faith in technological idols that (despite all the lessons of mechanized warfare) it is impossible to discover in the popular thinking of our time any trace of the ancient and profoundly realistic doctrine of hubris and inevitable nemesis.
“There is a very general belief that, where gadgets are concerned, we can get something for nothing – can enjoy all the advantages of an elaborate, top-heavy and constantly advancing technology without having to pay for them by any compensating disadvantages”. (13)
For Huxley, as for the tradition he espoused, there was no essential difference between the everyday life of the human being and the cultural or spiritual atmosphere in which he or she lives. He could see the lack of spirituality in the contemporary world not simply in terms of an abstract over-view, but on an individual level: “The industrial worker at his fool-proof and grace-proof machine does his job in a man-made universe of punctual automata – a universe that lies entirely beyond the pale of Tao on any level, brutal, human or spiritual”. (14)
Huxley urged his readers to turn their backs on the empty folly of modern life and reconnect with a tradition that would be our natural birthright, were it not hidden away from us by those who fear its force: “The reign of violence will never come to an end until, first, most human beings accept the same, true, philosophy of life; until, second, this Perennial Philosophy is recognized as the highest factor common to all the world religions”. (15)
Huxley continued his philosophical assault on industrial civilization in a follow-up commentary on Brave New World published in 1959.In Brave New World Revisited, he highlighted the dire consequences of continuing on our current course of endless multiplication and economic “growth”, with the spiralling levels of population required to make this possible.
He warned that “this fantastically rapid doubling of our numbers will be taking place on a planet whose most desirable and productive areas are already densely populated, whose soils are being eroded by the frantic efforts of bad farmers to raise more food, and whose easily available mineral capital is being squandered with the reckless extravagance of a drunken sailor getting rid of his accumulated pay”. (16)
Huxley pointed out that our apparently democratic societies were in fact ruled by a “Power Elite” (17) – “modern technology has led to the concentration of economic and political power”. (18)
He also explained how the apparent physical liberty of the individual in contemporary society could be an illusion. Not only were people fooled into accepting their enslavement, but the meaning of the word “freedom” was twisted so far that it came to mean that same enslavement.
Huxley wrote: “It is perfectly possible for a man to be out of prison, and yet not free – to be under no physical constraint and yet to be a psychological captive, compelled to think, feel and act as the representatives of the national state, or of some private interest within the nation, wants him to think, feel and act… The victim of mind-manipulation does not know that he is a victim. To him, the walls of his prison are invisible, and he believes himself to be free”. (19)
He warned of a possible future in which “democracy” and “freedom” would remain the catchwords of the status quo, but in which at the same time “the ruling oligarchy and its highly trained élite of soldiers, policemen, thought-manufacturers and mind-manipulators will quietly run the show as they see fit”. (20)
To prevent this happening, Huxley suggested we should “break up modern society’s vast, machine-like collectives into self-governing, voluntarily co-operating groups, capable of functioning outside the bureaucratic systems of Big Business and Big Government”. (21)
Looking back, in 1946, on his best-known novel, he said if he were to write it again he would provide the protagonists with another choice of society: “In this community economics would be decentralist and Henry-Georgian, politics Kropotkinesque and co-operative.
“Science and technology would be used as though, like the Sabbath, they had been made for man, not (as at present and still more in the Brave New World) as though man were to be adapted and enslaved to them”. (22)
1. David Bradshaw, ‘Introduction’, Aldous Huxley, Brave New World (London: Flamingo, 1994).
3. Aldous Huxley, 1946 Foreword, Brave New World.
4. Huxley, Brave New World, p. 19.
6. Huxley, Brave New World, p. 26.
7. Huxley, Brave New World, p. 43.
8. Huxley, Brave New World, p. 50.
9. Huxley, Brave New World, p. 214.
10. Huxley, Brave New World, p. 45.
11. Huxley, Brave New World, p. 44.
12. Huxley, Brave New World, pp. 199-200.
13. Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy (London: Chatto & Windus, 1980), p. 288.
14. Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy, p. 197.
15. Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy, p. 229.
16. Aldous Huxley, Brave New World Revisited (London: Chatto & Windus, 1959), p. 17.
17. Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, p. 34.
18. Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, p. 35.
19. Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, p. 154.
20. Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, p. 156.
21. Huxley, Brave New World Revisited, p. 159.
22. Huxley, 1946 Foreword, Brave New World.
“Confronted with the accelerated totalitarianisation of the UK being implemented under a de facto State of Emergency, we have chosen to listen to the lies of the Government and its media telling us exactly what to do and for how long, rather than hear a truth on which we will have to think and act for ourselves”. So writes Simon Elmer of Architects for Social Housing in a recent article in his excellent series on the Coronavirus situation. He warns that we are entering “a Britain of fully privatised public services and even greater economic and social inequality in a population ruled by emergency legislation, managed by the surveillance state and governed under a permanent state of exception”.
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Issue 10 of UK anarcho-zine DIY Culture is now online, with the theme of ‘the anarchist revolution – then and now’. Articles include ‘A Study of the Revolution in Spain, 1936-1937’ by Stuart Christie, ‘Anarchy From The Ruins’ by Paul Cudenec and ‘This Is Anarchy – Eight Ways the Black Lives Matter and Justice for George Floyd Uprisings Reflect Anarchist Ideas in Action’.
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Journalist Peter Hitchens continues to put most liberals and leftists to shame with his defiance of Covid-1984 totalitarianism. In an article in Standpoint mag, he insists: “The freedom to leave your house when you wish to and go where you will is not a civil liberty or a political liberty. It is part of being a free man or woman”. And writing about masks, he adds: “The truth is that the muzzle policy is all about power and fear. The Government began its wild, disproportionate shutdown of the country by spreading fear of a devastating plague that would destroy the NHS and kill untold thousands. Now, as many people find that Covid-19 is, in fact, nothing of the kind, new ways have to be found to keep up the alarm levels”.
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“It is a fact that techniques of manipulation are part and parcel of contemporary liberal democracies,” writes Dr Piers Robinson. “Although such persuasion activities can involve consensual techniques, they also frequently include less consensual techniques, involving forms of deception, incentivization and coercion”.
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The call has gone out to physically oppose the EU-China Summit being held in Leipzig in September. Says an online statement: “More than anything else, the EU-China Summit means a further escalation of the top-down struggle. Poverty and prosperity are to be further redistributed in favour of the economy and ruling elites. We will not stand idly by and we will attack and fight the summit to the best of our ability. Despite short preparation time, despite the Corona pandemic and all the narrowness it brings with it: We call on all of you to come to Leipzig from September 13th to 15th and attack the summit with us! No rest for the rulers – not here in Leipzig and not elsewhere! No to the EU-China Summit!”
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A rally against the World Health Organisation is being held in London on Wednesday July 22. Meet 12.30pm at St James park tube for a protest at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s London office in Victoria Street from 1pm. StandUpX is also staging a protest in the UK capital on Saturday August 1, at 2pm, with a rally at Speaker’s Corner, Hyde Park, followed by a march to Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square. For info on these and their regional protests see https://www.standupx.info/
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A useful list of articles about the Covid crisis has been published by our comrades at The South Essex Heckler. Some of them will already be familiar to Acorn readers, but the resource is well worth checking out.
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“The idea that society should suddenly be ‘reimagined’ by a handful of billionaires simply due to a pandemic is the opposite of freedom and self-determination”. This timely warning against the threat of “smart” cities – designed to form a key part of the totalitarian “new normal” – comes from the Liberty Blitzkrieg site in the USA.
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The Gilets Jaunes have been back in the news, after their longstanding uprising against neoliberalism was derailed by the Covid clampdown. A group of them who had been demonstrating in Paris on July 14 bumped into their arch-enemy Emmanuel Macron in the garden of the Tuileries (see video). There followed a heated exchange in which the French president was treated to a rendition of the Yellow Vest anthem On est là (Here we are, here we are, even if Macron doesn’t want it, here we are). Meanwhile, an excellent collection of English-language articles on this historically significant movement can be found here.
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Acorn quote: “The worker’s liberty, so much exalted by the economists, jurists, and bourgeois republicans, is only a theoretical freedom, lacking any means for its possible realization, and consequently it is only a fictitious liberty, an utter falsehood. The truth is that the whole life of the worker is simply a continuous and dismaying succession of terms of serfdom – voluntary from the juridical point of view but compulsory in the economic sense – broken up by momentarily brief interludes of freedom accompanied by starvation; in other words, it is real slavery”.
There had already been signs, before the coronavirus panic, that neoliberalism was shedding its fake-democratic mask and was preparing to switch to fascist mode.
And now we are well on the way. The global ruling elite have declared war on our freedom.
So what are we going to do about it? We reported in Acorn 56 that even last month there were signs of resistance.
Since then, despite the concerted efforts of the fake left to encourage supine obedience, there have been more outbreaks of anti-authoritarian revolt.
In Brussels, for instance, an anti-police uprising took place from April 10 to 12, unfortunately resulting in 100 arrests. There has also been spirited resistance on the streets of Santiago, Chile.
In France, the biggest reaction against the confinement has come from the poorest housing estates on the fringes of Paris and other cities.
The ongoing war between brutal, often racist, cops and local youth has intensified under the new police-state atmosphere and riots kicked off all over the place after Mouldi, a young man on a moped, was “accidentally” killed by police at Villeneuve la Garenne on April 18.
For night after night, in various parts of France, police were pelted with stones and fireworks and their vehicles and at least one local police station set on fire. “Mort aux porcs!”, “Death to the pigs!” was the slogan of choice.
This declares: “We haven’t forgotten that at the end of 2018 the violence of the Gilets Jaunes had become its last remaining option for seeking dignity and social justice.
“Some denied that this was the case and today there is another battle for the general interest that many would rather not see.
“This is the battle of the working-class areas who are fighting back with violence because violence is the only option the authorities have left open to them if they are to defend themselves against a police force which has granted itself power over life and death in these areas.
“As ever, and as was frequently the case with the Gilets Jaunes, the political and media class will condemn these popular revolts and explain to us that nothing can justify such violence. That people can be angry and have legitimate complaints, but that they can’t be expressed in this fashion.
“This class will try to empty these eminently political acts of all their substance. It will tell us that this violence is just gratuitous barbarity. But the real barbarity here is injustice.
“This is a people’s revolt and we must get behind it!”
Meanwhile, at least one call for protests in France on Friday May 1 has gone out.
“Because we are being trampled on. Because we can’t let the State dictate our lives. Because ending the lockdown has got to be an integral part of our struggle”.
The post on Nantes Indymedia adds: “Small-scale or individual actions are fine, but it is also important to take back the streets, to re-open a space that the authorities would like to close down”.
In the UK, radicals are calling for Mayday action short of mass protest.
Say the Green Anticapitalist Front: “This Mayday is unlike any previous Maydays. There will be no marches in the streets and no public speeches. Yet, now more than ever, we need to show that we are still here, still angry and still fighting.
“GAF is calling for an autonomous day of action on the 1st of May. We can’t demonstrate, but that doesn’t mean we can’t revolt. Take action alone or in a small crew. Mutual aid, solidarity, and direct action, all are valid. Keep it serious, keep it quiet. But above all stay safe.
“If you want us to share your action (after the event) on our social media, send us photos and details to email@example.com”
But the determination of large numbers of Americans to stand up to tyranny is heartening.
Could it be that, from now on, the only political fault line that really matters is between those who support and bow down to the new life-crushing global techno-dictatorship and those who rise up to resist it?
We will watch with interest how things evolve on the other side of the Atlantic.
Perhaps the most interesting developments have been coming in Germany, where a collective memory of the reality of totalitarianism remains strong.
Up to 1,000 people have been turning up for what are now weekly Saturday rallies in Berlin, with other protests elsewhere.
There are conflicting reports as to who is involved in these events, with some dismissing them as essentially far-right.
But it is clear that, as with the Gilets Jaunes in France, the wave of angry opposition is flooding across the usual political divides.
This report made it clear that the latest Berlin protest “attracted mainly far-left activists”.
It added: “Some of the demonstrators wore T-shirts accusing Chancellor Angela Merkel of ‘banning life’ while others simply called for ‘freedom’. Others brandished placards bearing slogans such as ‘Stop the pharmaceutical lobby'”.
Coverage was notably more hostile from other sources, such as Vice, with its dubious sources including “extremism experts monitoring the protests”.
It conceded that the rallies were “organized by a fringe group that considers themselves left-wing anticapitalists”, while still suggesting that they were contaminated by the right.
In another piece, Vicewrote dismissively of “conspiracy theorists” and “the paranoid belief that elites are imposing an oppressive ‘corona dictatorship’ on the public”.
Anyone detect a hint of panicky state propaganda?
One of these dangerous subversives, Anselm Lenz, gives an interview in English here.
Lenz is a journalist who was thrown out of his job for questioning the official virus narrative.
He and others have now formed a Demokatrischer Widerstand (Democratic Resistance) movement, with a printed rebel newspaper.
He explains that this is being distributed all over the country. There are now more than 100 local DW groups up and running, he says.
On Friday May 1 and Saturday May 2, the dissidents will be distributing their paper in Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, Berlin, from 3.30pm, with simultaneous events far and wide.
We look forward to hearing news of the resistance kicking off everywhere!
For all those who have yet to decolonise their hearts and minds from the dominant system, and are to eager to run into the arms of those offering “solutions” to what are complex societal issues.
Imagine a world where we opposed the entire system, rather than parts of it.  
Imagine a world where we ignored the mass media. 
Imagine a world where we spent our time fighting the latest corporate scam instead of being distracted by whatever the mass media is trying to distract us with.
Imagine a world free of advertising.
Imagine a world where we only consume what is absolutely necessary, reducing the need for exploitation of people and planet.
Imagine a world where communities lived off-grid.
Imagine a world free of factories producing stuff we don’t need.
Imagine a world where corporations didn’t exist because we produce what we need for ourselves.
Imagine a world where we all have access to land to grow enough food to be self-sufficient.
Imagine a world free of religion, where instead we hold in reverence Mother Earth and all her wonders. 
Imagine a world where people stopped placing their trust in NGOs and civil society organisations, and instead formed strong, organic communities to fight state and corporate greed. 
Imagine a world with minimum need for conventional medicine because Mother Earth offers us everything we need to stay healthy.
Imagine a world where we spent most of our days outdoors close to nature, strengthening our immune systems and building up resistance to any viruses that may come our way.
Imagine a world where we cared for each other without having to rely on governments, institutions or corporations.
Imagine a world where children are taught the importance of living in harmony with the natural world rather than removed from it by spending their days learning online between four walls.
Imagine a world where children are allowed to develop their imagination and creativity without having material forced down their throats.
Imagine a world where we exchanged our skills, and did away with the need for money. 
Imagine a world where we stopped arguing with each other over petty things, and instead focused on what unites us rather than on what divides.
Imagine a world where we took the time to genuinely listen to each other and understand each other, rather than making rash judgements, sticking labels on each other, putting each other in boxes, positioning each other on the left-right spectrum.
Imagine a world where we stood in solidarity with indigenous and tribal peoples instead of supporting the climate capitalists hell bent on plundering more of their lands. 
Imagine a world where we didn’t feel obliged to get married, settle down, or have children.
Imagine a world where we didn’t have to do work that we don’t enjoy.
Imagine a world where we didn’t live by the tyranny of the clock. 
Western Despotism can now unload the liberal baggage of bourgeois democratic institutions, having ruined the planet and enslaved humanity to its poisonous techno/industrial economy.
The capitalist disaster returns to its despotic origins, as the grave it is digging for itself threatens to take the rest of us and all living things that populate the planet.
The digital nightmare that will make domination inescapable is being foisted on a population terrorised by the very products it consumes and the mode of production that creates them.
The machine man and machine world that is domination’s dream of total control requires a level of servitude that can only be realized through the coercive apparatus of the state and the techno industrial Hydra that has colonized daily life with increasing speed in the last 20 years.
The choices that we humans face boil down to one: the living death of servitude, as machines in a machine world or liberty, or put in a more clear way, between life and death.
The Road to Hell Is Paved with Good Intentions: COVID-19, Corbyn and ‘Crisis’ is a new 44-page brochure on the 325 website which reflects that the UK anarchist movement has been badly led astray by the Jeremy Corbyn phenomenon and now in its reaction to the virus clamp-down. It states: “Relationships that were built on shared ideas and experiences have become damaged. This isn’t some teenage angst ridden over dramatisation, it is a genuine reflection, a question about what remains”. The full text is available here, but below are few choice segments:
We planned to get this text together and then publish and distribute it when stuff “returned to normal”. But, the reality is: there is no going back to what was “normal,” so even though some may read this text as an unsympathetic distraction from a global “crisis”, and an unhelpful poke in some festering wounds (when we should be focusing on “unity”), we hope our humble but fiery reflections will spark some much needed discourse. We are living in a hostile environment, but it was important to us not to shy away from our beliefs in these dark times, and to respond accordingly.
Already many mutual aid groups have become channels for gossip (who knows where this will go in the next few weeks… comrades in Italy warn us of neighbourhood snitching and people using these channels to do the work of the police). Already over half the police forces in England are co-opting the mutual aid groups and using them as an extension of their surveillance mechanisms. The divisive mentality that emerged with the growth of social media (the idea that you are inherently dodgy if you don’t engage; as you must have something to hide) has spiked, and like the virus, it seems unclear when it will “peak”.
To those who say that now is not the time for “civil unrest,” that division is unhelpful, that we must keep going… we say: now is the time for it all. Mutual aid and solidarity can be no more than acts of charity if they are not combined with resistance in this current context. Carefully, whilst being safe and thinking of others… rebel, resist, and plan. Find
the gaps, use the skills and networks you have. Keep yourself sane and your rebellious heart burning, because when the virus eases, the police state will continue, and food parcels and lending books are not going to dismantle it. Stay sharp.
COVID-19 is in many ways a global gift to all leaders and politicians seeking to ramp up social control. After the virus eases, we will see unprecedented changes on a global scale as legislation that was rushed through hangs over us like a spectre and people obediently go about their business, terrified of Covid-20. We hope that we will never be too scared to resist. Corona shows us that the system is fucked. Will you kick it while it’s down?
We’ve had week after week of wall to wall coverage of the COVID-19 crisis in the media. The question is, how many people are still paying attention to it and how many, for the sake of their sanity, are choosing to switch off from it? If this ever ends, it would be an interesting exercise to conduct research on what effect this barrage of coverage has had on people’s mental health. It would also be interesting to see how much this relentless coverage has further undermined people’s already shrinking faith in the media.
We’ve been doing what we can to try and keep up with developments but to be honest, we have days when the stress of trying to discern any meaningful signal from the cacophony of noise is so overwhelming, we simply switch off and try to re-focus the following day. Having said this, a still somewhat scratchy picture is starting to emerge of what we face in the coming months and years as the COVID-19 crisis evolves and morphs into something that will quite possibly be sinister and dystopian.
Fault lines are emerging. On the one hand, there are those who by and large accept the lockdown and the need for it to go on for some considerable time and also, are largely supportive of whatever tracking and monitoring measures have been mooted to ostensibly limit and eventually eliminate the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
On the other hand, there are those who have taken a look at the relentless coverage of the crisis, smelt a rat and are starting to question the narrative we’re being fed, particularly when that is being used to justify measures which will restrict our freedom and subject us to more surveillance.
As regular readers of the Heckler may have gathered, we tend towards the latter. We’re anarchists and as we’re supposed to accept no higher authority than ourselves and those we collectively organise with, it would be downright negligent of us to not question the narrative we’re being fed!
So, all of the extra powers the government has conferred upon itself and all of the surveillance and tracking that’s coming our way, ostensibly to deal with COVID-19, will certainly come in handy when the shit hits the fan as the next wave of austerity is sent to crush us. Just one example are the powers that could see restrictions or bans on large gatherings for the rest of the year and quite possibly, into 2021. As we’ve mentioned previously, large gatherings will take in demonstrations and radical/anarchist bookfairs.
Which leaves us with mutual aid work and online propagandising. If you keep your mutual aid work away from digital networks as far as possible, avoid any hierarchy, keep it grassroots and face to face, you’ll get by. Those of us who are basically propagandists and because of the dearth of opportunities to physically distribute our material, pretty much have to rely on being online, will be facing a very uncertain future as we slide towards more authoritarianism.
On the subject of restrictions, there are strong rumours that many cafes, pubs and restaurants will not open again until close to Christmas. Bear in mind, many of these establishments face the prospect of going to the wall: Pubs in the UK Might be Closed Until Christmas – If They Survive at All. As we’ve written before, that’s a massive loss of opportunities to meet up with friends for company, drink and/or food.
While those of us whose jobs have survived this massive economic shock will be gradually returning to work, there will be little or no socialising because there won’t be anywhere to go. Life will be reduced to work, commute, eat, sleep, commute, work…repeat on loop, ad infinitum. Entertainment will not be the company of friends but whatever is being piped down to our TVs. A diet of fear-mongering so called ‘news’ designed to keep us frightened and reliant on the authorities to look after us. Sprinkled with a toxic dose of divide and rule to keep us divided, atomised and easier to manipulate and control.
That’s for those ‘lucky’ enough to still be in ‘steady’ work. For the millions more who’ll be on precarious zero hours contracts or unemployed, struggling to find work in an economy that’s been gutted and reliant on Universal Credit, life will be grim. For those who are disabled and rely on Universal Credit and a gutted public sector for the support they need, life is already horrendous as they find themselves increasingly thrown to the margins. As it is for the elderly in care homes pretty much unable to access hospital treatment and finding that they’re subject to ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ notices.
We’re in a society where some lives are seen as worth considerably less than others – based on how much people can or can’t contribute to the ‘bottom line’. When that narrative starts to become widely accepted, what is essentially a cull by a combination of neglect and malice starts to become normalised.
The lockdown is tearing us apart from each other. If a loved one has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 before they passed away, not only were you not allowed to be with them in their final hours if they were in hospital, you’re not allowed to see their body before cremation. Numbers are strictly limited at the funeral with physical distancing enforced and no wake afterwards. At a point in life where you need to emotional and physical support of family and friends, it’s denied to you. People are going to be mentally scarred by experiencing the passing of a loved one in this way for the rest of their lives.
We live opposite a park with play equipment, now taped off. It’s been silent since March when the lockdown was brought in. Along with the closure of nurseries and schools, kids have been denied the opportunity to play with each other. Play is not a frivolous activity. From toddlers onwards, play is how kids learn to interact with each other. It’s how they learn to negotiate, compromise and co-operate with each other. It’s how they learn from mistakes and go on to become fully rounded human beings. Denying kids the opportunity to play for any significant length of time is going to cause long term developmental and mental health issues down the line.
Adolescence is when kids really start to work out who they are. It’s when kids quite rightly want to assert their independence and get out into the world. It’s when long term friendships are formed. It’s when they develop a support network of their peers. Can you imagine what an adolescent will be feeling when all of this is denied to them as they face what is to all intents and purposes, indefinite house arrest? A ‘normal’ adolescent will find this hard enough. Anyone with mental health issues will find this agonising. Tragically, this has already led to adolescents feeling they have no option but to take their lives.
Lockdown with an abusive partner or parent is a nightmare that doesn’t even bear thinking about. It’s a potential death sentence. Anyone advocating the continuation of the lockdown really needs to have some thought as to what urgently has to happen to prevent any more tragedies where an individual has been killed by an abusive partner or parent.
As we’ve written previously, it really does feel like we’re being subjected to a massive psychological experiment: A few readings and thoughts on the psychological impact of COVID-19 anxiety and the lockdown. One in which we’re simultaneously being subjected to an unprecedented level of fear-mongering and being torn apart from each other. One in which we’re being made to feel that the only option of being able to move forwards is to subject ourselves to a loss of autonomy through increased tracking and surveillance, ostensibly for our own good. One in which our hopes and plans for the future have been trashed. One in which we’re being atomised and made ever more dependent on the whims of our rulers for our survival. One which has already turned into a fucking nightmare for a lot of people and will do for many more of us.
It seems that when a commentator uses the word ‘reset’ to describe the social and economic turmoil that’s coming our way, the accusations of ‘conspiracy theory’ start flying around. The last few weeks have been quite revealing in terms of where those accusations have been coming from because a fair number of them have come from people who consider themselves to be ‘radical’ and a few from so called ‘anarchists’. The point is that the global lockdown has caused an economic shock of historic proportions that like previous shocks, will end up seeing more wealth concentrated in fewer hands. As has already been seen in the years since the banking crash of 2008.
So, people who may think they’re doing the right thing by supporting restrictions on movement and gatherings, as well as increased tracking and surveillance are actually supporting the creation and enhancement of an apparatus that will completely screw our lives and freedoms. All we ask is that you take a deep breath, take a few steps back, do your best to get some perspective and start to ask some hard questions about what’s being done to us. If those questions aren’t asked and we continue on the trajectory we’re on, for many of us, life will become mere existence as we’re effectively plugged into a dystopian matrix. Many may not even survive to experience this.
You may find this hard to believe but we’d really love it if we were wrong on everything we’ve written above and ended up with a copious amount of egg on our faces. Trust us, we want to wake up and find this has all been a bad dream. The thing is, we wake up every morning, check our news feed, see the deserted playground opposite us, feel that tightening, sickening feeling in our guts and realise this is reality. We’ve got an all too narrow window of opportunity to act and start to resist what’s happening to us. If we don’t, not only are we screwed, generations to come will be as well…
I am proud to have found my way to anarchism some 30 years ago, proud to have learned all I could about anarchism, to have put anarchism into practice, to have met existing anarchists, to have led others towards anarchism, to have written and talked so much about anarchism.
I have lived anarchism and I know that I will die an anarchist.
That is why it pains me to have had to say that there are today some fundamental problems at the very heart of the anarchist movement, problems which reach deep into the very way it thinks and feels.
It saddens me to have had to point out that what presents itself to the outside world as anarchism is often nothing but the empty shell of anarchism, a zombie anarchism, still stumbling ahead with black flag held aloft, but cruelly robbed of its soul.
Needless to say there are plenty of anarchists around the world who are true to the essence of the idea, some of whom have let me know that they share my concerns.
But I have got a horrible feeling that these authentic anarchists are, these days, very much in the minority.
My first inkling that all was not well with anarchism, and indeed the wider social movement to which it belongs, came nearly 19 years ago.
Up until that moment, everything had been going swimmingly well for me. I was inspired and delighted by the seemingly unstoppable tide of the global anti-capitalist revolt of which I formed a tiny part.
I should say here that I wasn’t at the great battles of Seattle, Prague or Genoa, although I was in the City of London on June 18, 1999 and at the subsequent Mayday events.
But missing out on all the “summit hopping” didn’t make me any less enthusiastic about the great revolution that seemed to be approaching.
My comrades and I made sure the inhabitants of our home town were well aware of what was happening across the world, via leaflets, bulletins, posters, meetings, protests and squatted infoshops.
I am sure I was still feeling as motivated as ever on September 11 2001, as a group of us travelled to London Docklands to protest against the DSEI arms fair.
The demo ground to halt when news started coming in of the attacks on the Twin Towers in New York and people rushed to the pub to watch the news on TV.
We didn’t, of course, understand the implications of what had happened and initially welcomed it as another sign of the impending collapse of the evil empire.
The actual effect of 9/11 on our struggle only became clear to me a few weeks later when I was attending a meeting in the nearby city whose thriving anarchist scene was, to me and my friends, a constant source of inspiration.
Someone who had been very much part of the pink-and-silver-samba-bloc Zeitgeist of the uprising told me that she wouldn’t be doing that any more. It didn’t seem right, after the terrorist attack, to continue our carnival-cum-war against the USA and its world of capitalism.
I was completely taken aback by this comment. I simply couldn’t imagine how anyone – anyone on my side! – could have come to that decision.
Stop fighting against everything that was bad in the world because something else bad had happened, something that wasn’t our fault, that was nothing to do with us, that had no bearing on the reasons or the aims of our struggle?
My disappointment resonates now across the years, vibrating with the brave new world of 2020…
Fortunately, this wasn’t the end of the movement to which I had attached myself. It morphed seamlessly into the radical wing of the anti-war movement in 2002 and 2003.
The demos were less fun-based now, maybe, but the energy was very much still in evidence, together with a firmness of ethical conviction that was well able to withstand the weapons of mass deception unleashed by Blair, Campbell and Bush.
It wasn’t just anarchists who didn’t believe their lies, of course. Millions of people rejected their message of fear and took to the streets to say so.
The authorities hadn’t quite perfected their narrative projection in those days. They hadn’t properly closed down all the possibilities of dissent. But that still didn’t stop them from going ahead with the invasion of Iraq!
Another moment of disappointment for me came in the summer of 2005 during the anti-G8 moblisation in Scotland, one which was strangely similiar to that of 2001.
Once again our protests came to a halt, this time because of the 7/7 carnage down in London.
Once again something bad had happened somewhere else, something that wasn’t our fault, that was nothing to do with us, that had no bearing on the reasons or the aims of our protest.
Some people were saying we should call off the planned demos. Why? Why would we want to do that?
I recall that we broke down into bario meetings to discuss what to do. Our group was certainly in favour of carrying on the mobilisation and I heard later that the same was true of others.
But, somehow or other, the non-leaders at the Stirling convergence space deemed that the democratic decision had been taken to throw in the towel. Their de-escalation team went into action to defuse all that inconvenient anarchist rage.
They must have diligently continued their work everywhere afterwards, because from that point on, there seemed to be decreasing levels of anger, and indeed, energy, in the UK movement.
The very idea of physically opposing global capitalist summits, which had so inspired me in the past, was now considered hopelessly old hat.
The 2013 Stop The G8 campaign was largely snubbed by what was left of the anarchist movement in the country and the London mobilisation would have been a total flop without the enthusiastic participation of European comrades.
Since then, the movement and its attitudes seem to have become progressively drained of the coherent and powerful worldview which drew me to anarchism as a young man in search of political and philosophical truth.
Every couple of years, a new fashionable obsession seems to have taken a grip, speaking a language I do not know in order to express views which are completely alien to me.
Noam Chomsky has spoken about the “incomprehensible gibberish that comes out of left-wing intellectual movements”, which he described as “just impossible to understand”. (1)
There are two obvious consequences to this relentless advance of the anarchist scene into an intellectual and political dead-end.
Firstly, the people it recruits will be those who are prepared to uncritically conform to its one-dimensional newthink, who are willing to surrender their own independence of thought and swallow what Chomsky called “the latest version of post-modern this and that”.
It now turns out, at this historical moment, that these are exactly the kind of people who are eager to accept whatever version of the truth is presented to them by authority figures.
They are also the kind of people who are eager to condemn and ostracise any old-fashioned anarchists who have the audacity to think for themselves.
I have noticed that, inevitably I suppose, they do so using the same reflexes and language with which they try to impose their dogma on their comrades.
The whole world becomes a “safer space” when they insist that you should not question martial-law lockdown because you could put others at risk.
When you point out that the virus is mainly killing those who are already sick or old, they declare that you are “ablist” and use their familiar shaming and accusatory tone in order to imply that drawing attention to the relatively low mortality rate is the same thing as welcoming the deaths of those who have sadly succumbed.
Someone saw fit to slip into his argument against my condemnation of the clampdown the fact that I am “white”, which apparently means my views on absolutely everything are hopelessly polluted by privilege and can happily be ignored by all left-thinking citizens. (He is also “white”, by the way).
The guilt-by-association smearing is pushed to the extreme. Whatever view you share which is critical of the panic and the global police state it has spawned turns out to be illegitimate because the person who expressed it is a believer in the wrong kind of freedom (see my previous post), or is an “anti-vaxxer”, or uses language or arguments that sound suspiciously alt-right, or has otherwise not earned the blue tick of ideological purity.
Their greatest magical weapon is, of course, the term “conspiracy theorist”. No sooner is it brandished, than all need to refute fact or engage logically is dispelled in a great puff of newthink smoke.
The argument has been won without even the need to address it!
The other side of the coin, the corollary to the take-over of the movement by zombie-anarchists, is the question of what has happened to all the born anarchists.
Chomsky’s comments came in the context of his concern that young people would be turned away from anarchism by the cult-like ideological fixations that are today so dominant.
It’s not even just the young. There are people of all ages who learn a little bit about anarchism, would like to find out more with a view to getting involved and so dip their toes into the water by turning up at an anarchist venue or event.
If they run a mile and never come back, what happens to them? And what happens to those who never even get that far, who get one faint whiff of the stifling intellectual claustrophobia via the internet and realise there is no place for them in that self-righteous and puritan little world?
I think they are still out there. They may or may not think of themselves as anarchists. They may use other labels or none at all. We don’t have to give ourselves labels.
But they are still anarchists, natural anarchists, the rebels who would have formed a strong and healthy anti-capitalist movement if it had not been sabotaged from within by the zombies.
They are the anarchists who would have stood up, in anger and en masse, against the coronavirus coup d’état.
These natural anarchists will keep emerging in each generation, because a love of freedom and truth is part of what it means to be human.
They may emerge and rise up now, straight away, in the face of this unprecedented global power grab.
Or it may happen later, when they have had a chance to reorientate themselves and find each other.
But we can be sure that sooner or later they will cast off their muzzles, unplug their chains and try to smash to pieces the slave-system which has stolen everything from them.
Because, after all, as Gustav Landauer (2) put it, anarchy is life. Where there’s life there’s anarchy. Where there’s anarchy there’s hope.
1. Noam Chomsky, ‘Anarchism, Intellectuals and the State’, Chomsky on Anarchism, ed. by Barry Pateman (Edinburgh, Oakland and West Virginia: AK Press, 2005), p.217.
2. Gustav Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings: A Political Reader, ed. and trans. by Gabriel Kuhn, (Oakland: PM Press, 2010), p. 74.
One name which keeps coming up again and again in the context of the Covid-19 coup is that of billionaire Bill Gates.
Indeed, he himself announced on April 27 that as from that day, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation would be focusing its “total attention” on the pandemic.
His allies and apologists are complaining that poor Bill is the victim of “misinformation” and “conspiracy theories” regarding his involvement and influence.
So horribly unfair when he has “donated $250 million toward the crisis, espoused the importance of developing a safe and effective vaccine, and supported the creation of a government-funded manufacturing infrastructure”.
But it is undeniable that the Microsoft founder has got his fingers in many a pie.
Researcher Jacob Levich has described Gates’ activities as part of a new “global health imperialism”.
He says: “Interlocking networks of foundations, foundation-sponsored NGOs, and US government institutions like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) — notorious as a “pass-through” for CIA funds — work hand-in-hand in support of imperialism, subverting people-friendly states and social movements by co-opting institutions deemed helpful to US global strategy”.
Levich adds: “The Gates Foundation exercises power not only via its own spending, but more broadly through an elaborate network of ‘partner organizations’ including non-profits, government agencies, and private corporations.
“It orchestrates vast elaborate public-private partnerships – charitable salmagundis that tend to blur distinctions between states, which are at least theoretically accountable to citizens, and profit-seeking businesses that are accountable only to their shareholders”.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation dishes out phenomenal amounts of funding every year across the global health sector. In the words of one NGO official quoted by Levich: “You can’t cough, scratch your head or sneeze in health without coming to the Gates Foundation”.
Some salient facts:
* The Gates Foundation is the World Health Organization’s second biggest donor. “This largesse gives him outsized influence over its agenda” notes the Politico website. “Gates’ priorities have become the WHO’s”.
* Gates Foundation cash has been pouring into Imperial College, London, which came up with the scaremongering death toll projections – £63 million in 2020 alone!
* Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, the US equivalent of Imperial, received at least $2,876,472 from the Gates Foundation in 2019.
* The UK’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty declared himself “delighted” in 2008 when the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded £31 million for his consortium’s malaria research in Africa. One good turn deservers another.
* The BBC, whose shock-and-awe propaganda has been keeping the UK public paralysed by fear, is funded by the Gates Foundation to the tune of many millions of pounds.
* The Guardian’s “Global Development” section declares: “This website is funded by support provided, in part, by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation”.
* Gavi, the “Vaccine Alliance”, received $2,498,750 from the Gates Foundation in 2019. On its website it lists its first partner as the Bill and Gates Foundation, followed by Unicef, the WHO and The World Bank.
* Gates has been described as “a major player in trying to get the world to go digital and ditch cash, especially relevant given his role in the COVID-19 issue”.
* The Gates Foundation is a heavy pusher of agrochemicals and patented seeds. Environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason, questioning why pesticides did not feature in a WHO-UNICEF-Lancet report, discovered that many of the 42 listed authors had received funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
* Gates wants to create global health “governance” which would “work closely with Western military forces, specifically NATO, in operations targeting the developing world”. It would have the power to bypass national safety regulations, suspend constitutional rights and impose surveillance networks.
It is not as if nobody had noticed the evolving Gates global power grab. It has been building up for some time.
In 2016, Global Justice Now warned that it was likely that “Bill Gates, who has regular access to world leaders and is in effect personally bankrolling hundreds of universities, international organisations, NGOs and media outlets, has become the single most
influential voice in international development”.
It drew attention to the Gates Foundation’s “aggressive corporate strategy and extraordinary influence across governments, academics and the media” and the astonishing absence of voices criticising its influence.
“Global Justice Now is concerned that the foundation’s influence is so pervasive that many actors in international development, which would otherwise critique the policy and practice of the foundation, are unable to speak out independently as a result of its funding and patronage”.
But now, as events accelerate rapidly, lots more critical attention is finally being turned to the Gates empire.
Investigative journalist Vanessa Beeley, for instance, warns that behind the COVID-19 drama is “an entire pharmaceutical complex potentially protecting its own interests over any genuine concerns for the health and welfare of global populations”. This involves The Gates Foundation, the World Bank and the British Government.
Gates’ key role in advocating for a global vaccination programme is also probed by Eric Wagner in Multipolar Magazin. He examines “ID 2020”, which wants to roll out a global “digital identity” system of control and says: “The founding partners of the project are Gates’ company Microsoft, the Gates-sponsored vaccination alliance GAVI, the management consultancy Accenture and the Rockefeller Foundation, one of the oldest and wealthiest foundations in the USA”.
And a useful report on the Children’s Health Defense site adds: “Globally, roughly 70 COVID-19 vaccines are in various stages of development — a veritable gold rush that will be all the more lucrative since Gates has made sure that the vaccines will be indemnified against lawsuits”.
Gustav Landauer died 101 years ago on May 2, beaten and kicked to death by proto-fascists after taking part in the defeated Bavarian Revolution of 1919. Here we share the profile of this important anarchist thinker from the orgrad website.
“Anarchy is life; the life that awaits us after we have freed ourselves from the yoke”
Gustav Landauer (1870-1919) was an important anarchist theorist and key precursor of organic radicalism.
He took part in the Bavarian Revolution at the end of the First World War but, with its collapse, he was arrested and murdered by proto-Nazi Freikorps soldiers in Stadelheim Prison, Munich.
Like his friend Martin Buber, he saw a close link between human interrelationships and the rebirth of community which was needed to put society right.
Landauer also echoed the likes of William Morris and John Ruskin in condemning the “unculture” of industrial capitalist society.
He wrote in 1911: “Progress, what you call progress, this incessant hustle-bustle, this rapid tiring and neurasthenic, short-breathed chase after novelty, after anything new as long as it is new, this progress and the crazy ideas of the practitioners of development associated with it… this progress, this unsteady, restless haste; this inability to remain still and this perpetual desire to be on the move, this so-called progress is a symptom of our abnormal condition, our unculture”. (2)
His vision was based on living human communities, social organisms with their own guiding collective spirit or Geist, arising from below and from within. This is very much the idea of the authentic human community, the Gemeinschaft, described by Ferdinand Tönnies.
Landauer was inspired by organic medieval society, which he contrasted with contemporary top-down artificiality.
He wrote: “The state, with its police and all its laws and its contrivances for property rights, exists for the people as a miserable replacement for Geist and for organizations with specific purposes; and now the people are supposed to exist for the sake of the state, which pretends to be some sort of ideal structure and a purpose in itself, to be Geist…
“Earlier there were corporate groups, clans, gilds, fraternities, communities, and they all interrelated to form society. Today there is coercion, the letter of the law, the state”. (3)
The state combined with industrial society to destroy all authentic collective spirit, argued Landauer.
Writes Charles Maurer: “The most obvious sign of the absence of Geist was for Landauer the plight of the industrial workers.
“Separated from the earth and its products and spiritually isolated from each other despite the closeness of their living conditions, they become victims of alcohol, disease, and poverty.
“The relationship between worker and employer becomes completely dehumanized through capitalism, technology, and the state”. (4)
Landauer bitterly opposed Marxists for remaining trapped in this mechanistic mindset and for failing to lead a deep and effective resistance to industrial capitalism.
Russell Berman and Tim Luke explain that, for Landauer, Marxism was itself “part of the problem posed by industrialization”. (5)
They add: “Marxism, despite its revolutionary appearance, functions in fact as an impediment to socialism. In the light of Landauer’s critique, nineteenth century scientific socialism ceases to appear as a radical critique of the status quo. Rather, behind its revolutionary pretenses, it buttresses the development of capitalist structures”. (6)
In his booklet For Socialism, Landauer was vehemently outspoken against the Marxists who had taken control of the socialist movement of which he considered himself a part.
He described their dogma as “the plague of our times and the curse of the socialist movement” (7) and bemoaned “the grotesque wrongness of their materialist conception of history” (8) in which they reduced everything to “what they call economic and social reality”. (9)
Landauer also hinted at his disquiet over the growing influence of Marxism, and its modes of thinking, on the anarchist movement.
He refered disparagingly to “the syndicalists and the anarcho-socialists, recently so-called by a pitiful misuse of two noble names” as the Marxists’ “brothers” (10) and specifically extended his condemnation to all Marxists “whether they call themselves Social Democrats or anarchists”. (11)
Still today, Landauer’s rich and powerful brand of anarchism is sometimes dismissed as “mystical” and therefore unacceptable to the shallow modern industrial world view adopted by too many so-called anarchists.
Like Constantin von Monakow, Landauer extended his concept of the organic to a cosmic level, regarding the universe as a living creature with a collective soul and writing that “the psyche [das Seelenhafte] in the human being is a function or manifestation of the infinite universe”. (12)
Landauer’s use of terms like Geist and Seelenhafte forms an inherent part of his anarchism, flowing naturally from the rest of his philosophy.
He was opposed to all private land ownership, declaring: “All ownership of things, all land-ownership is in reality ownership of men. Whoever withholds the earth from others, from the masses, forces these others to work for him. Private ownership is theft and slave-holding”. (13)
He was equally opposed to the power of the state favoured by his Marxist rivals, which destroyed authentic and organic society inspired by the collective Geist.
The idea of Geist also fed into Landauer’s ideas regarding revolution, along with his related concept of Wahn, a kind of motivating resonance which could bring about sudden radical change.
He explained: “Wahn is not only every goal, every ideal, every belief in a sense of purpose of life and the world: Wahn is every banner followed by mankind; every drumbeat leading mankind into danger; every alliance that unites mankind and creates from a sum of individuals a new structure, an organism”. (14)
Landauer said the spark for revolution was always the stupidity, brutality or weakness of rulers, but that “the people, the thinkers, the poets are a powder keg, loaded with spirit and the power of creative destruction”. (15)
The energy of Wahn would ensure that this powder keg ignited: “There is no need to fear a lack of revolutionaries: they actually arise by a sort of spontaneous generation – namely when the revolution comes.
“The voice of the spirit is the trumpet that will sound again and again and again, as long as men are together. Injustice will always seek to perpetuate itself; and always as long as men are truly alive, revolt against it will break out”. (16)
Anarchism, said Landauer, was “a collective name for transformative ambitions” (17) and its role was to encourage Wahn and help create the resonance of revolution.
In this way it could rid the human social organism of the stifling restrictions imposed by property, the state and industrialism and allow it to breathe and flourish in a free and natural way.
As Landauer famously declared: “Anarchy is life; the life that awaits us after we have freed ourselves from the yoke”. (18)
1. Russell Berman & Tim Luke, ‘Introduction’, Gustav Landauer, For Socialism, trans. by David J Parent, (St Louis: Telos Press, 1978), p. 8.
2. Gustav Landauer, For Socialism, pp. 35-36.
3. Gustav Landauer, Aufruf zum Sozialismus (Berlin: 2nd ed, 1919), pp. 19-20, cit. Charles B. Maurer, Call to Revolution: The Mystical Anarchism of Gustav Landauer (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1971), p. 93.
4. Maurer, pp. 108-109.
5. Berman & Luke, ‘Introduction’, For Socialism, p. 10.
6. Berman & Luke, Introduction, For Socialism, p. 11.
7. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 32.
8. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 123.
9. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 56.
10. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 57.
11. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 82.
12. Gustav Landauer, Skepsis und Mystik: Versuche im Anschluss an Mauthners Sprachkritik (Cologne: 2d ed, 1923) p. 7, cit. Maurer, p. 69.
13. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 128.
14. Landauer, Beginnen: Aufsätze über Sozialismus, ed. by Martin Buber, Cologne, 1924, p. 16, cit. Maurer, p. 92.
15. Gustav Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings: A Political Reader, ed. and trans. by Gabriel Kuhn, (Oakland: PM Press, 2010) p. 170.
16. Landauer, For Socialism, p. 82 & p. 130.
17. Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings, p. 304.
18. Landauer, Revolution and Other Writings, p. 74.
A wave of direct action has broken out against 5G, the central infrastructure of what some are calling the Fourth Industrial Repression. Masts have been torched in the UK, Ireland and the Netherlands, with “conspiracy theories” inevitably being blamed by corporate media. Meanwhile, a study has emerged from Spain pointing to a very clear geographical relationship between “coronavirus outbreaks” and the presence of 5G networks. English version here.
* * *
An international day of action against mobile phones has been called for June 2O-21 2020. A new organization called End Cellphones Here on Earth (ECHOEarth) announces that its mission is “to end the root cause of the wireless web that is punching holes in our atmosphere and bathing us all in radiation”.
* * *
Three Days Against Techno-Sciences is the title of an event to be staged in Italy in July. This is described as “an informal, convivial and international opportunity for discussion and reflection among individuals and organisations engaged in building an analysis and a critique of what we may call the technoworld”. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
* * *
Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben has spoken out against the new covid-fascism. He wrote: “The disproportionate reaction to what according to the CNR is something not too different from the normal flus that affect us every year is quite blatant. It is almost as if with terrorism exhausted as a cause for exceptional measures, the invention of an epidemic offered the ideal pretext for scaling them up beyond any limitation”.
* * *
“The truth is that all that is living, all living organisms, the cells that comprise them and the ecosystems they exist within, are the sum total of our individual life”. Beyond the Dark Horizon is a green anarchist review from so-called Australia and can be found here.
* * *
“Between the SDGs, the WEF’s calls for a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, and the rise of carbon-markets and ‘natural capital’, it’s clear that ecomodernism is not just a buzzword for naive ex-hippies and dodgy PR agents; it is the ideological framework for an emerging green technocracy. A conservation-industrial complex, if you will”. Android Wolves, Electric Sheep: Ecomodernism and The Rise of the Green Technocracy is the first article on a brand new blog, Symbiotic Culture.
* * *
Planet of the Humans is a new film by Jeff Gibbs, in collaboration with Michael Moore, and it is currently free to view. Like the Wrong Kind of Green website, we have reservations over its emphasis on population, rather than consumption, as a key issue, but this remains a splendid demolition of the climate capitalists’ scam of selling us their industrial solutions to an industrial problem.
* * *
A very thorough analysis by Iain Davis on the Off-Guardian site presents evidence “which strongly suggests the State and the MSM, adhering to a globalist agenda, have colluded to mislead the public into believing the COVID 19 threat is far greater than it actually is”. A must-read.
* * *
“This is a war. Not a war on a pandemic but a war on the people. This is corporate authoritarianism. This is fascism. We are nothing more than torture victims at the hands of these emotional terrorists”. Quarantyranny is a remarkable 30-minute video from the Book of Ours team in the USA.
* * *
“Perhaps we’ve decided that freedom no longer has value. It would seem that safety has taken primacy in the left’s discourse in recent years”. So writes Lorenzo Raymond in a April 23 article on the Diversity of Tactics website.
* * *
“We must recognize we live in a capitalist economic system that serves capital first and foremost”, warns investigative journalist Cory Morningstar. The World Economic Forum is using “influencers” such as David Attenborough, Greta Thunberg and Jane Goodall to push us into the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the monetization of nature, in lockstep with the deployment of central bank digital currency. She adds: “Covid19 is the conduit to the #4IR now in full motion. As people come to terms with what is being forced upon humanity, we will soon regret that we did not unite to oppose to draconian lockdowns and expanding surveillance that will serve to protect/insulate ruling classes from revolt”.
* * *
We were all set to share with readers a clear, level-headed and professional exposure of the reality behind the virus scare by doctors Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi of Bakersfield, California. But then we learned that, having notched up 4.3 million views, it had been removed by YouTube for violating its “community standards”. Now why would that be? The original link was here, someone put it up again here, and it should still be available here and here…
* * *
A fake-left infiltrator of the socialist scene, spreading smears against anyone standing up to neoliberalism and imperialism… What has been recently unveiled in Germany very much chimes with the Labour Leaks scandal in the UK. Unmasking a Wikipedia propagandist is a fascinating interview with Dirk Pohlmann (pictured) of Wikihausen.de by US journalist Helen of desTroy.
* * *
Modern Medicine, the New World Religion is a book by Olivier Clerc which argues that the medical establishment has become the government’s ally, as the Catholic Church was in the past. ‘Charlatans’ are prosecuted today, as ‘heretics’ once were, and dogmatism rules out promising medical theories.
* * *
Smartphones are so out of date these days. Imagine, some people might not actually carry them around with them every minute of the day! How would the authorities know where you are so as to keep you safe from terrorists, viruses and disinformation? But don’t worry, you can get yourself microchipped! Apparently this is already catching on in Sweden, as this video report (and this) explain. This is the “new normal” they want us to swallow.
* * *
Acorn quote: “Mechanization and industrialization have rapidly transformed the planet, exploding ecosystems and human communities with monoculture, industrial degradation, and mass markets. The world now corresponds more closely to the prophetic warnings of primal peoples than to the hollow advertising claims of the industrial system: the plants disappearing and the animals dying, the soils denuded along with the human spirit, vast oceans poisoned, the very rain turned corrosive and deadly, human communities at war with one another over diminishing spoils – and all poised on the brink of an even greater annihilation at the push of a few buttons within reach of stunted, half-dead head-zeks in fortified bunkers. Civilization’s railroad leads not only to ecocide, but to evolutionary suicide”.
January 19, 2019: week 10 of history-forging French uprising
For the tenth weekend running, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets all across France in the Gilets Jaunes or Yellow Vests revolt against neoliberal capitalism – and this in the face of unprecedented state violence and oppression.
President’s Macron pathetic attempt to take back the initiative with his “Grand National Debate” has been exposed as a sham, with his regional roadshows protected by armies of riot police – deployed to keep at bay the people he is supposed to be listening to!
In Paris, for Act 10 of the uprising, the latest in a series of massive marches was estimated by observers to stretch for 4km and was met with the usual hostility and teargas from the “forces of order”.
🔴 URGENT – #Avignon : Des #casseurs ont tenté de mettre le feu à l'hôtel de ville. Ils ont incendié un container à poubelles devant la porte en bois du bâtiment situé place de l'Horloge avant de prendre la fuite en cassant tout ce qu'ils pouvaient sur leur passage." #giletjaunepic.twitter.com/EQo9qrVZw8
Everywhere there were thousands and thousands of people demanding an end to the neoliberal misery being imposed on France by Macron’s regime and the whole corrupt political system.
Caen, Rouen, Nîmes, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Toulon, Dijon, Beziers, Perpignan, Montpellier, Lyons, Angers, Poitiers, Marseilles, Bergerac, Brest, Longeville-lès-Saint-Avold, the little town of Foix in rural Ariège…
And from everywhere the same images and reports came flooding in: big crowds, police provocation, teargas, grenades, batons, water cannon, blood and defiance.
You can call it what you like – The Establishment, The Thing, The Matrix or the Industrial-Military-Prison-Propaganda-Complex – but it exists.
It has become trendy in recent years to pretend that this is not so, that what we are seeing is merely a collection of economic or interpersonal relationships.
But it is the system that promotes, protects and imposes all the layers of domination and exploitation that mark our everyday lives.
It is the system that tells us we have to spend our best life energy working for it, just for the right to eat and exist in the world it claims it owns.
It is the system that pays its hired thugs to beat us up, intimidate us, lock us up for years if we refuse to play by its rules.
It is the system that maims and murders human beings on an unimagineable scale across the world, all in the interests of its profit and power, and still always claims the moral high ground.
It is the system that lies through its teeth, with a slick smile on its face, and is always quick to accuse anyone who challenges its lies of being a liar.
It is the system that devours, poisons and destroys our air, our water, our land and our bodies.
It is the system that brings death and extinction while claiming to bring growth.
It is the system that is always looking at new ways to monitor us, to control us, to infiltrate our lives, to direct our thoughts, to crush the tiniest possibilities of our freedom and resistance.
It is also the system, of course, that insists that the system does not exist, that we should not confuse the many trees of its oppression and control with an overall wood that could be termed an entity.
It says that anyone who talks of the system is necessarily a simple-minded fool who imagines the world is all controlled in every detail by half a dozen James Bond villains sitting around a conference table in an underground bunker.
It says that anyone who talks of the system is a conspiracy theorist liable to start spouting all kinds of deranged, maybe anti-semitic, nonsense.
The system says this because it knows full well that the rest of us – the powerless nobodies it so despises – will never be able to effectively challenge the system if we don’t even know that it exists.
On this point, and this point alone, we agree with the system. Identifying the existence of the system is the necessary first step to clearing the way for a worthwhile future for humankind and our planetary home.
The second necessary step is to destroy the system in its entirety.
The system has always depended on being able to control the narrative of the societies it controls, ensuring that its own existence remains invisible and that all its lies are accepted as self-evident truths.
It knows that it is in big trouble if serious numbers of people start ripping the propaganda drip-feeds from their brains and sourcing their information from elsewhere, if people stop parroting the sermons of the system’s priests and start thinking for themselves.
It has been interesting to see the system in panic mode in France, being forced to work through every step of the emergency disinformation procedures as the Gilets Jaunes revolt gathers more and more momentum.
To start with, the Gilets Jaunes were just a passing nuisance. Then they were right-wing extremists, or left-wing extremists if the message was being aimed at a right-wing audience. After that, they were violent thugs and village idiots. Then it was all a flop and dying out. Then they were suddenly threatening armed revolution. They subsequently switched back to being fascists again, maybe of the elusive “red-brown” variety evoked by neoliberals everywhere in their desperate attempts to equate far left with far right and present themselves as the only safeguard against the horrors of so-called “populism”.
Again and again, the well-groomed and arrogant faces of the Parisian elite appeared to inform the French people that they were nothing but uneducated riff-raff who deserved to be shot and telling them to pack it all in. But nobody was watching TV on the roundabouts.
The media even wheeled out the tired old spectre of the Le Pen family once again, with inflated reports of how they were poised to come to power. It’s a great double-act for the capitalists, the old nice-nasty routine: support capitalism or you get fascism.
While there have been howls of media outrage over every flower-pot thrown towards the serried ranks of armour-plated riot cops, the huge levels of brutal violence inflicted by the police themselves have been sidelined or even ignored.
Individual cops have complained publicly that the instructions for this violence – by means of tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannon, grenades or just good old-fashioned beating and kicking – are political and have come straight from the state.
RÉPRESSION CONTRE LES GILETS JAUNES : UN POLICIER MET EN CAUSE LE GOUVERNEMENT
"Le message envoyé par le gouvernement c'est : on veut aller à la confrontation, on ne veut plus éviter la répression, tout est mis en place pour que ça dégénère". Alexandre Langlois, @VIGI_MIpic.twitter.com/wpGlX7T0Je
The system has given orders for the Gilets Jaunes to be left bloodied in the road, handless or eyeless in several cases. The system has given orders for its media to pretend this just isn’t happening.
And people have seen that. Millions of people have seen it and seen through it. The system has played its hand and it cannot keep playing it again and again with the results that it expects.
This is the scenario it fears most. The scenario in which the hologram illusion of democracy projected by its vast range of propaganda techniques flickers and disappears from the minds of the people.
Instead they see reality as it, as it has been for a long time: a criminal gang of professional liars, manipulators and thieves successfully holding millions of people in a state of thralldom, and being prepared to use unlimited violence to hold on to their power.
It is not just in France that the system is afraid of losing control, although the population there seem to be several steps ahead of others in their awareness of what is going on and their courage in actually trying to do something about it.
That is why for years the system has been infiltrating radical political movements – and often sabotaging them from within so they can never successfully mobilise against its domination.
That is why it is rolling out products like NewsGuard to filter internet intervention and try and make sure only the system’s version of reality, the system’s views, can reach the public.
That is why it is constantly removing pages and accounts from social media, policing the internet to try to ensure that small voices of dissent can no longer be heard, while claiming that this insidious censorship is all about countering “fake news”.
That is why journalists who help whistleblowers expose the system’s crimes and manipulations are not only targeted by the system’s police but mercilessly smeared by the system’s faithful media lackeys.
But can the system ever really regain full-spectrum narrative domination and get all that information toothpaste neatly back into the mind-control tube?
Greta Thunberg: darling of the climate change reformists
Needless to say, we at The Acorn are fully behind environmental campaigns like Extinction Rebellion (see Issue 45) which warn that we face planetary disaster unless our society makes radical changes.
But we have to admit that we are often puzzled as to why there is quite so much emphasis on climate change as the primary evidence of something going badly wrong.
Why less talk of the plastic that is choking our oceans, the chemicals polluting our water sources, the nanoparticles absorbed by our bodies, the noxious fumes poisoning our air, the microwaves causing cancers in our brains?
Why so little mention that there is a name for all of this – industrial capitalism?
Why so few calls for the dismantling of this productivist profit-based insanity and the instigation of degrowth to restore a society which produces solely according to its real needs?
Surely it couldn’t be because the climate change movement is being insidiously manipulated by elements of industrial capitalism itself?
Surely it couldn’t be because the issue is being hijacked by powerful private interests as a way of getting rich on the new technologies that will supposedly solve the crisis?
Could it really be the case that genuine environmental activists, arrested and locked up for their courageous actions, are being used as human cannon fodder for a global marketing campaign?
Anyone tempted to dismiss these questions out of hand might like to take a look at the new work published online by radical ecologist researcher and writer Cory Morningstar.
This concerns the “non-profit industrial complex”, which she describes as “the most powerful army in the world”.
She writes that we are currently witnessing “the launch of a global campaign to usher in a required consensus for the Paris Agreement, the New Green Deal and all climate related policies and legislation written by the power elite – for the power elite”.
The policies this campaign is trying to push through include carbon capture storage (CCS), enhanced oil recovery (EOR), bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), rapid total decarbonisation, payments for ecosystem services (referred to as “natural capital”), nuclear energy and fission, and “a host of other ‘solutions’ that are hostile to an already devastated planet”.
The overall aim is the opposite of the degrowth we so badly need and would involve the “rebooting” of the capitalist economy by creating new markets and new growth.
Morningstar warns: “What is being created is a mechanism to unlock approx. 90 trillion dollars for new investments and infrastructure”.
The first part of her in-depth report focuses on “the manufacturing of Greta Thunberg” and the We Don’t Have Time organisation.
Future sections promise to investigate the role of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, 350.org, Avaaz, the World Wildlife Fund, the Green New Deal and, yes, Extinction Rebellion.
We look forward to reading them.
In the meantime, it is important that all of us who want to head off environmental catastrophe make it quite clear that this is not going to happen so long as we remain trapped inside the capitalist system.
He describes our Western world as “a civilization with money as its universal mediation” in which capitalism “encloses” and privatises all aspects of life.
It cannot tolerate the idea of anyone living outside of its enclosure, hence its need to stamp out the practice of “subsistence” farming, where communities have the cheek to simply produce enough food for their own requirements, rather than for the requirements of the capitalist profit-machine.
It forces people into its system by giving them no choice, he explains: “Declaring war on subsistence means dissolving the autonomous ways of life of thousands of people and thereby enslaving them to commercial needs which they can only fulfil by going out to earn a wage”.
The idea of defending a natural world, which includes human communities’ relationships with the environment, has been neglected by Western anti-capitalism, he says, particularly under the influence of mainstream Marxism.
Uprooted from our previous rural existences, we today often find ourselves living in a sterile and life-denying suburban sprawl, a space created “for the demands of capital”, where people are trapped in a dependence on their cars and thus on the oil industry.
Garcia draws much on William Morris and echoes his critique of the artificiality of industrial capitalism: “In this world of artifice, going beyond the surface to a deeper level, that of the sheer essence of things, is no longer conceivable”.
Garcia dedicates another section of the book to examining, and condemning, transhumanism, which he terms “the official ideology of technological capitalism”.
This ideology “reduces the human brain to a simple processer of information, a mere calculating machine” and is built on the “basic negation of the reality of living organisms”.
Behind it lurks a “brutal dualism” which regards mind and body as completely separate, and thus imagines the possibility of a “posthuman” self with no fleshly existence.
Worryingly, this ultra-capitalist creed is also embraced by some who term themselves left-wing and have swallowed the lie that technological and social progress amount to the same thing.
You can read the full version of this book review by Paul Cudenec on his blog.
“The Wet’suwet’en and Unist’ot’en remain steadfast in the determination that we will be successful in halting the toxic Coastal GasLink pipeline”. This was the defiant message issued on January 17 after the Canadian branch of the industrial-capitalist-military complex used shocking force against the indigenous peoples to try and clear the way for its polluting infrastructures, prompting an international wave of solidarity actions.
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Hundreds of people marched in Bern, Switzerland, on Saturday January 19 against the World Economic Forum being held at Davos, and against capitalism in general. They declared: “The infinite greed for profit and power that is seen at the Forum in Davos has no limits. Let the ruling class feel our anger”.
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Protests are to be held in Berlin on February 16 against the European Police Congress being hosted in the city. Says the call-out: “Let us use the police congress as an opportunity to take to the streets together against the police, the security authorities and their laws. Against state violence and repression. Against a world in which it is okay to let thousands of people drown on the borders of Europe, a world in which people are persecuted, imprisoned and killed because of their aspirations for liberation, a world that wants to destroy all forms of a life based on solidarity and collectivity”.
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A new book on squatting has been published by Squatting everywhere kollective (SqEK) and is available to read online. ‘Fighting for spaces, Fighting for our lives: Squatting Movements today‘ provides glimpses into a diverse and multi-faceted movement, with accounts from local struggles, experiences of repression and stories of collective forms of life which have grown out of squatted spaces in various cities and countries throughout the world, including accounts from Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul, Seattle and Australia.
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“Stop 5G on Earth and in Space!” is the message from a new international appeal. It calls for a halt to the deployment of the 5G (fifth generation) wireless network, including 5G from space satellites, explaining: “5G will massively increase exposure to radio frequency (RF) radiation on top of the 2G, 3G and 4G networks for telecommunications already in place. RF radiation has been proven harmful for humans and the environment. The deployment of 5G constitutes an experiment on humanity and the environment that is defined as a crime under international law”.
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In India’s densely populated megacities, residents are rallying against the widespread destruction of trees to make way for capitalist development, reports Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar. She highlights grassroots resistance in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi which are keeping alive the Indian tradition of tree-hugging and passionate defence of nature.
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Brazil’s new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has already set out his vile agenda, reducing the minimum wage and unveiling plans to step up privatization, toughen prison sentencing guidelines, and hand control over Indigenous land to the Agriculture Ministry. The pro-US, pro-Israel Bolsonaro could well be the first in a new line of authoritarian neoliberals ready to impose industrial capitalism on the world without worrying too much about the facade of “democracy”.
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An eye-opening account of life for workers in China has been provided by Dissent Magazine. Uprooted from the land, peasant-workers have to take jobs in the electronic, garment, construction, or service industries whose low wages force them to work punishing hours of overtime. They live in crowded dormitories, under CCTV surveillance and the constant threat of eviction if they protest. “This is the true ‘miracle’ of Chinese industrialization: a highly vulnerable, precarious, and exploited working class”.
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A very interesting article has been published by our US comrades at It’s Going Down, addressing the thorny issue of alleged ideological similarities between deep-green anarchism and fascists, who often used nature-based rhetoric in their propaganda. The author finds that even the way the two traditions talk about nature reveals the apparent resemblance to be superficial: “The philosophies of the fascists came to largely revolve around concepts of domestication, husbandry, design, and surgical intervention; those of the primitivists revolve around wildness, biodiversity, voluntary association, and self-determination”. ‘Fascism, Ecology, and the Tangled Roots of Anti-Modernism‘ sits nicely alongside our own 2018 article, ‘Organic radicalism: bringing down the fascist machine‘ as a step towards clearing up this area of painful ideological misunderstanding.
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Acorn quote: “What is the point of economic progress, a so-called higher standard of living, when the earth, the only earth we have, is being contaminated by substances which may cause malformations in our children or grandchildren?”
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.
I 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!) and it 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, as ‘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”.
The fight against fracking in the north of England is to be dramatically intensified with three months of intense direct action against the sinister and toxic industry.
The newly-launched United Resistance group is promising significant levels of activity, starting in April, when Cuadrilla says it expects to begin fracking at its Preston New Road site near Blackpool.
Say United Resistance: “The situation is urgent and it is only a united and powerful resistance that will halt fracking before it’s too late – and we’re on the threshold of it being too late.
“If the industry performs a ‘frack job’ then the damage is done and stopping them becomes a far greater challenge.
“Sites across the UK are making a stand with residents taking part in community meetings, rallies and non-violent direct actions; here in Lancashire, we know that Cuadrilla intends on pushing the chemicals, silica sand and vast quantities of water underground between April and July.”
“We are asking nothing more of you than your body and if you can’t bring us this… then your online shares, letter writing, local actions and events… but mostly, we need you here with us for any part of three months of targeted resistance starting 2nd April 2018.”
Campaigner Tina Rothery’s blog reveals that the initiative will see different groups ‘adopting’ a week each in order to bring about maximum resistance to the fracking industry.
She says: “The first week has been adopted by the women of Nanashire as well as women from the weekly Call for Calm, the local area, other groups and camps”.
Tina calls on women to take time off work and arrange care so that they can be available at Preston New Road in Lancashire “to exercise our lawful right to peaceful protest and non-violent action”.
Meanwhile, in Yorkshire, Frack Free Ryedale and Frack Free United have organised a series of talks in eight villages about INEOS’s shale gas exploration plans in the area – for full details see the Drill or Drop website.
Opponents of fracking point to the large number of fracking bans, moratoria and restrictions across Europe, “every single one of them powered by ordinary people standing up against a corrupt political system”.
As one local group in Yorkshire put it: “We can do this – standing together against fracking is the only way we can make a difference and stop the destruction of our beautiful villages and countryside”.
There are strong signs that the battle is winnable. When Conservative-controlled Derbyshire County Council rejected INEOS plans to explore for shale gas at Bramleymoor Lane in the village of Marsh Lane on Monday February 5, it was the fourth time in under a fortnight that an English council had opposed shale gas plans.
The message is clear and simple: people power can defeat fracking. And the death-breathing industrial capitalist dragon of which it is just one poisonous fang.
2. An airport defeated, a capitalist system still to be toppled
A huge victory party is being staged at Notre-Dame-des-Landes near Nantes in France on Saturday February 10, after the French state finally abandoned plans to build a new airport there after 50 years of resistance and occupation.
Now the struggle will revolve around resisting the authorities’ declared intention of evicting the ZAD autonomous zone which was the focal point of the successful long-term campaign.
There has already been a reaction amongst more radical campaigners against the idea that now the airport has been scrapped, everyone can pack up and go home happy.
Said one statement: “True, the airport project has been abandoned… Certainly, it is a victory for the struggle against the airport of Notre-Dame-des-Landes.
“But many of us have fought and supported the struggle against the airport and its world. The capitalist world, to tell the truth, the world of economic and social inequalities, the world of oppression and exclusion. Is this struggle victorious? And if it is not, how can it still radiate towards other struggles against useless and imposed mega projects?
“Since January 17, we are no longer fighting against this airport, but we are still fighting against its world and its allies. What is happening now in this struggle is also happening in many other struggles, environmental or social.”
The ZAD Forever website says, regarding February 10: “We will celebrate the fact that this unique landscape of forests, fields and wetlands will never be turned into a giant machine for burning the climate, never!
“It is also is a victory of all those who have put their bodies in the way of the machines for decades, a victory for a truly popular movement that brought so many differences together into a rich composition, a victory for an unimaginable diversity of tactics from sabotage to petition writing, direct action to mass demos, it a victory for all those who live on within this bocage (the name of this specific type of landscape, a rich chequerboard of small fields, hedgerows and forests) and are trying to reinvent forms of life together, despite capitalism and the state.
“The 10th of February will a day to celebrate the burying of the project, to show that the ZAD is here to stay, that we are going to continue to grow roots deep down into this territory and to demonstrate our solidarity with other struggles against destructive projects around the world”.
People are being invited to bring saplings, bushes and shrubs to plant and enrich the hedgerows and to come dressed for carnival in Green One style.
“Marching bands, a giant fire-breathing salamander and other mythical beasts, will lead the crowds through the zone towards a convergence point where everyone is invited to put effigies (in wood, paper or cardboard) of unwanted projects against which they are resisting into a giant bonfire with a big surprise at its heart ! With a plethora of musicians, bands and invited Dj’s, we will dance and feast together late into the night.”
The joint press release put out by a range of airport opponents on January 17 declared: “This is an historical victory against a destructive project. This was made possible thanks to a long mobilisation that has been both diverse and determined.
“First of all, we’d like to sincerely thank everyone that mobilised against this airport project over the past 50 years.
“As regard to the future of the ZAD, the whole movement would like to confirm the following points:
“The need for the farmers and people that were expropriated to recover their rights as soon as possible
“The refusal of any eviction of those who came here over the last few years to live and defend the place, and who wish to continue living here and look after the area.
“The will to let the various actors of the struggle (farmers, naturalists, locals, groups, people that have lived here for a long time or have just joined us) handle, on the long term, the land/fields of the ZAD.”
More light has been shed on the murky network of dodgy organisations behind the current anti-Russian and “fake news” hysteria, designed (as we explained in Acorn 39) as the perfect pretext for a fascistic clamp-down on all online news and views unwelcome to the global capitalist elite.
On this side of the Atlantic, it has emerged that the European Commission’s “High Level Expert Group” investigating unauthorised news is, as the anti-capitalist commentator Civic Critic points out, “made up of Google, Facebook and Twitter employees, plus appointees chosen by centrist US-aligned media”.
And in the USA on January 10 a significant Senate report on the subject was unveiled, which dresses up its real agenda with a flurry of inflated claims about Russia’s “malign influence operations”.
Corporate media such as CNN faithfully lapped all this up, of course, and gushed obligingly about “Russia’s arsenal of military invasions, disinformation campaigns and corruption, and its weaponization of energy resources”.
But, more significantly, the report calls on companies such as Facebook and Twitter to be held more “accountable” because “social media platforms are a key conduit of disinformation that undermines democracies”.
Read that last quote again! This is chilling stuff. In neoliberal language, “disinformation campaigns” which “undermine democracies” of course include factual reports which happen to reveal inconvenient truths about US military and economic global domination.
The agenda is clear. The genie of uncensored information unleashed by the internet is threatening neoliberal power and must urgently be pushed back into the totalitarian bottle of elite control.
The “who” and “where” of the Senate report’s presentation are also useful indicators of the political agenda which fuels its claims.
It was unveiled to the world by veteran US Democrat politician Ben Cardin, whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s forthcoming election opponent.
Cardin is known for his vehemently pro-Israel stance. As The Interceptpoints out, “Cardin’s crowning achievement came last year when he authored a bill that would have made it a felony to support a boycott of Israel”.
And the “where”? Cardin launched the report at the HQ of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, which, as we reported in Acorn 39, has been leading the propaganda campaign against so-called fake news, partly through its front organisation, the Alliance for Securing Democracy.
Following on from our articles, we have been pointed towards some further fascinating information about the GMF on the Powerbase website.
It notes that the GMF was conceived during the Cold War to tie Europe to the United States and was “a breeding ground for journalists, university students and politicians committed to Atlantism”.
The GMF was set up in 1972 at a time of widespread protest against the US war in Vietnam, it adds. The Red Army Fraction had just attacked the US Army HQ in Heidelberg to destroy the strategic computer that controlled its bombers in South-East Asia.
“It was also the time of the strategy of tension whereby NATO secret services manipulated right and left-wing factions to encourage a more authoritarian government.
“The idea behind the Fund was that it would facilitate the identification and recruitment of new ‘messengers of Atlantism’. With the collapse of the cold war the neoconservatives have reactivated the Atlantic networks, to use in their own project dominated by two terms coined by Joseph Nye: ‘Neo-liberalism’ and ‘soft power’.”
In the light of all this, it comes as little surprise to discover, on a close reading of the report, that talk of the so-called “threat” from Russia is nothing but a thinly-disguised geopolitical call for action to defend US global corporate imperialism.
It claims, for instance, that bogeyman Putin has “made it a priority of his regime to attack the democracies of Europe and the United States and undermine the transatlantic alliance upon which Europe’s peace and prosperity have depended upon for over 70 years”.
It also says the US government should continue to oppose the construction of their rivals’ Nord Stream 2 pipeline, “a project which significantly undermines the long-term energy security of Europe and the economic prospects of Ukraine”.
So that’ll be the famous “weaponization of energy resources” – moves which undermine European states’ complete dependence on the US capitalist system.
The same twisted Cold War mentality also sees the report claim that the European anti-fracking movement is being secretly supported by the Russians, in order to keep the continent “more dependent on Russian supplies”.
And all the talk of “fake news” really concerns a propaganda war being waged by the US to maintain the economic, military and cultural occupation of Europe, originally just Western Europe, that it has maintained since the end of the Second World War.
When the report writes of “disinformation and conspiracy theories that seek to undermine European institutions like the EU and NATO” that’s what it’s all about. Control. From the US imperialist point of view, any information that threatens its interests is automatically “disinformation”. Any analysis of the underhand activities of the CIA, NATO etc is automatically “conspiracy theories”. Any news it doesn’t like is automatically “fake news”.
The talk of dastardly Russian attempts to “break centrist consensus” by supporting “extreme” political parties reflects US fears that its own placemen (“centrists” like Tony Blair and Emmanuel Macron) will no longer be able to ensure that Europe is under the American military-corporate thumb.
The language is coded but nevertheless clear. “Democratic” always translates as “capitalist”, while “transatlantic values” refer to the US strings attached to European puppet-politics, as in the statement that “Merkel’s Germany has led the defense of transatlantic values that underlie open, democratic societies”.
The report makes it plain that any method is considered fair in this propaganda war in defence of the US Empire, talking blatantly about creating “narratives” that suit US objectives.
It states at one point: “The RAND analysts also recommend not just countering the actual propaganda, but its intended effects. For example, if the Kremlin is trying to undercut support for a strong NATO response to Russian aggression, then the West should promote narratives that strengthen support for NATO and promote solidarity with NATO members facing threats from Russia.”
So what would “promoting a narrative” involve, then? Inventing threats from Russia to drum up support for NATO? It certainly sounds that way!
It’s interesting to note that the report itself does not talk about the US publishing information, as in true information, to counter “Russian disinformation”, but rather something called “counter-disinformation”.
The hub for this, it tells us, is the Global Engagement Center, within the State Department, which is “tasked with coordinating counter-disinformation efforts across the US government”.
It includes personnel from the Department of Defense, Department of Treasury, National Security Agency, National Counterterrorism Center, the Broadcasting Board of Governors and, of course, the CIA.
In case there were any lingering doubts about what kind of “fake news” and “disinformation” the CIA and its chums are keen to stamp out, there are a couple of telling mentions of President Macron of France, a particular favourite of the neoliberal establishment.
The report complains that “during the French presidential elections, Sputnik reported on unfounded rumors about the sexual preferences of the pro-EU candidate, Emmanuel Macron”.
It adds later: “Reports disseminated by these outlets and on pro-Kremlin social media had variously decried Macron as a puppet of US political and business leaders, alleged he held an offshore account in the Bahamas to evade taxes, and fueled rumors of an extra-marital gay relationship, which Macron publicly denied.”
Obviously any suggestion that Macron is a puppet of the US (and in fact a product of the US Marshall Memorial Fellowship scheme!) is the sort of dreadful slander that should never be allowed to see the light of day in any self-respecting freedom-loving centrist democracy, committed to transatlantic values.
A powerful backlash is underway against the ideological sabotage which has been undermining anti-capitalism for the last few decades.
Since the turn of the century, radical political thought in the West has increasingly been infected by self-defeating tendencies which destroy its coherency and energy from the inside.
But now it is starting to shake off the debilitating intellectual malady and is reasserting its own inspiring vision of a world beyond capitalism.
People are turning their backs on the defeatist analysis that suggests there is no point in identifying and opposing the current system and its ruling class.
They are refusing to sign up to an ultra-liberal pseudo-radical agenda which promotes individualism in a fake-leftist guise and which can only imagine collective levels of oppression and resistance within the limits of the intersectionality of purely individual experiences.
One important recent intervention came from the anarchist thinker Miguel Amorós in the course of two talks in Mexico in November.
Here he strongly criticised postmodernism, which he described as the first ever philosophy not to be based on the love of truth. Instead it relativises the idea, regarding it as a mere “construct” – something artificial and with no real foundation.
The logical conclusion of this kind of thinking, he warns, is that no universal value or concept will be considered valid. “Being, reason, justice, equality, solidarity, community, humanity, revolution and emancipation will all be classed as ‘essentialist’, in other words as ‘pro-nature’ abominations”.
Amorós noted that, although it pretends to be radical and has infected anarchist thinking, the postmodern philosophy amounts to “nihilism in harmony with the Markets, for which anything without economic value is of little importance”.
The contemporary “intersectional game of oppressed minorities” is replacing a collective resistance to established power, warned Amorós.
He said this was the latest stage of a historical sabotage of authentic opposition to industrial capitalism, that had begun at the end of the 1960s.
“Once the revolutionary subject had been neutralised in practice, it had to be suppressed in theory, so that its struggles might remain isolated, marginalised and incomprehensible, wrapped up in a brain-sapping, self-referential waffle designed only for the initiated. That was the task of French Theory.”
A similar message comes in an article by Sandra C. in the French-language anti-capitalist bulletin Négatif, in which she condemns the “insidious influence exerted on left-wing circles for many years by the postmodernist theory and cultural studies”.
Sandra C. writes: “By abandoning the concept of exploitation in favour of an analysis based on relationships of domination, by abandoning universalism for a defence of particularism and by abandoning the idea of a revolutionary and universal proletariat, so-called radical activists find themselves far away, poles apart even, from the emancipatory politics they claim as their own.”
She describes postcolonialism as closely linked to postmodernism and criticises the attitudes associated with what is sometimes known as critical whiteness.
She says: “It is disconcerting to see so-called revolutionaries, taking on board a collective guilt for colonial exploitation and its crimes and feeling shamefully ‘European’, ‘French’, ‘white’ and ‘privileged’. Self-assigned identity-based labels dressed up with guilt are not the way to emancipation and are in fact just mirror images of the identities claimed by the extreme right.”
Elsewhere, US-based journalist and writer Andre Vltchek condemned the anti-revolutionary thinking of the contemporary Western left in a blog article on February 3.
He writes: “The European left betrayed as early as in the 1980’s, by becoming too soft, too undisciplined, too cautious and too self-centered. It put pragmatism above the ideals. It rapidly adopted the lexicon of the liberal ideological establishment, complete with Western perceptions of human rights, democratic principles and political correctness.
“It ceased to be revolutionary; it essentially stopped all revolutionary activities, and it abandoned the core element of any true left-wing identity – internationalism.”
Vltchek adds: “The Western left is much more part of the West than of the left.”
A German-language diagram has also been circulating on social media which draws a distinction between the “traditional” and the “new” left.
It contrasts the traditional left’s struggle on behalf the majority of the population with the new left’s over-emphasis on minorities.
The traditional left is internationalist, calling for the workers of the world to unite against capitalism, but the new left tends to be globalist in the liberal sense, it says.
Whereas the traditional left is anti-fascist, anti-imperialist and anti-war, seeing fascism and militarism as aspects of the capitalist system, the phoney liberal left swallows the lie that there could be such a thing as a “humanitarian” war and that states which do not bow down to Western interests are basically dictatorships, fascist regimes that “we” have a moral duty to oppose.
The traditional left has always been against the power of financial capital, but for the new liberal left this position smacks of anti-Americanism, even anti-Semitism.
Freedom of opinion has always been a mainstay of traditional left-wing thought, since the Enlightenment, but the new left denies this freedom to any thinking which strays outside of its own values, the values of “the West”, it is further claimed.
The suggested differences between these two kinds of “left” stem from differences in ways of seeing the world and don’t necessarily apply to practical policies and sympathies.
The “old left” is far from indifferent to the plight of refugees, for instance, but does not regard their situation as something outside of the general conditions of capitalism, against which it is already fighting.
It includes the need to help migrants and oppose racism within its left-wing vision of the world, but it does not fetishise and separate off this particular aspect of the overall struggle, leaving it open to reformist recuperation.
We should acknowledge, at this point, that, in the past and today, some anti-capitalists have paid lip service to the idea of racism but have avoided facing up to the reality of racism as experienced by individual people. They have not properly considered how this shapes their vision of society, social movements and anti-capitalist struggle.
But this criticism has clearly been taken too far when “left-wing” ideologies end up rejecting the universalism which has always been the bedrock of the left’s internationalism and anti-racism.
It is, in fact, quite mysterious how the postmodernist critique of universalism has so easily been swallowed by swathes of the so-called left.
The argument is based on the way that, historically, European colonialists described their own values as “universal” to justify imposing them on the rest of the world.
But it is false logic to claim that because the term “universal” was misused in this way, it therefore has no validity.
The idea of human universality should be fundamental to any socialist, anarchist or communist view of the world. This is the bedrock of our opposition to racism, nationalism and all the other excuses for separating people, dividing them into categories, deciding that some have more “rights” than others.
It is closely linked to the idea of equality. From a universalist perspective, all human beings are equal.
Right-wingers have always, of course, deliberately misunderstood the idea of equality. They try to pretend that it means left-wingers want to “make everyone the same”, to create some kind of faceless totalitarianism which imposes this terrible equality on us all.
They refuse to accept that equality is perfectly compatible with diversity and simply means acknowledging the theoretical equal value of every single human being, whatever their particular characteristics.
The postmodernist argument against universalism is, effectively, this same stupid right-wing argument! It deliberately presents universalism as a way of imposing a certain model on people, of destroying diversity in the name of some kind of central control.
But this is just not true. Universality, like equality, comes from below, from within humankind. There is a human universality which bonds us. There is a human equality which unites us. Left-wing, particularly anarchist, thinking understands and embraces this.
Throwing out universalism from the anti-capitalist world-view sabotages it at a fundamental level. Reclaiming universalism is therefore the first stage in renewing the international ideological and political struggle against capitalism and all the fragmented, incoherent, disempowering philosophies that it spawns.
Thousands of people protested in Switzerland in January against the World Economic Forum at Davos, and the presence of US President Donald Trump (see preview in Acorn 39). The venue hosting the global elite was protected by thousands of troops and protests there were banned on the flimsy pretext that there was “too much snow” in the Alpine resort.
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A big weekend of international solidarity with the struggle to defend Hambach Forest in Germany was staged on February 3 and 4. Reports Hambachforest.org: “From all across Germany, from Genoa, Amsterdam and Spain, from Bristol and countless other locations came solidarity demonstrations, soli photos , banner drops, actions and all other outpourings of support. The largest demo took place in Cologne. Large demonstrations also took part in Aachen and Essen.” Although tree felling is on temporary hold, the authorities are trying to evict the 20 tree-houses and 11 barrios which have been set up to block the mine’s expansion and levels of police repression are on the rise.
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Campaigners in Italy are trying to halt the environmentally-destructive Trans Adriatic Pipeline project, which aims to bring gas from Azerbaijan via Greece and Albania. On February 6 the EU’s bank EIB approved a €1.5bn loan for the controversial TAP project. Commented Friends of the Earth Europe: “This will keep Europe hooked on fossil fuels for decades – just when we should be kicking our fossil fuel addiction”. But the fight in Italy goes on. Said the NoTap campaign on February 7: “The day after EIB’s criminal decision to finance a huge useless and anachronistic project, the population continues to fight against the realization of TAP”.
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If you believed the industry’s propaganda, you’d probably imagine that opposition to fracking is a lot of fuss about nothing. The odd well here and there, what’s the problem? But can you imagine living in a town with 300 fracking wells, where asthma is rife and children can’t go out and play because of poison gas in the air? That’s the reality in the USA, where fracking has been allowed to get a hold, as illustrated in the excellent documentary Don’t Frack With Denton. A successful campaign earns a fracking ban, which is overturned by corrupt authorities, steering local activists towards direct action and anarchist principles. “We will be enforcing our ban here,” they declare. “Expect resistance!”
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The UK’s Anarchist Action Network is next meeting in Bristol, from 1pm to 4pm on Sunday March 11. The session is being held at “Resist!” (previously known as “Kebele Community Co-Op”), in Robertson Road. All anarchists welcome.
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A planned road tunnel past Stonehenge, England’s most important prehistoric site, could spell the loss of a unique site nearby, that can trace the presence of people back to 8000 BC, reports The Guardian. Warned David Jacques, an archaeologist at the University of Buckingham: “The intention is that an 8m high flyover will be built next to the site. One of trenches is only 2m away from the road. They seem prepared to carry on no matter what. It’s a scandal that this is being rushed through.”
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“In May 2015, a declassified Pentagon document provided shocking evidence that the US-led campaign in Syria not only contributed directly to the rise of the Islamic State (IS), but that Washington was perfectly satisfied with such an outcome.” This is one of ten “very curious facts” about ISIS published by Mint News Press on January 30. The rest are worth a look, as well.
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“The future of humanity is the struggle between humans that control machines and machines that control humans… Undetectable mass social influence powered by artificial intelligence is an existential threat to humanity.” This was the stark warning from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on January 18, 2018. But since he’s a known denier of transatlantic values, and a fugitive from liberal Western justice, everything he says can safely be dismissed as nothing more than extremist disinformation.
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Acorn quote: “The social distinction that counts most in the present state of things is that based on wealth, that is to say on a purely outward superiority of an exclusively quantitative order”.
1. “Let’s put our resistance on the streets in 2018!”
Resistance against the global capitalist system and its police-state repression will be coming to the streets of Europe at the start of 2018, with important international demonstrations planned for Switzerland and Germany.
The action, and discussion, in Switzerland this month revolves around the meeting at Davos of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Swiss radicals are calling for anti-capitalist unity against the WEF and the plutofascist system it represents.
They say: “This year’s WEF slogan is ‘Creating a common future in a broken world’. We agree that the world is not what it should be. But unlike the WEF we see systematic causes for the ‘broken world’.”
In the run-up to the WEF meeting, which is being held on January 23 and 24, opponents are staging an alternative discussion weekend, on Saturday and Sunday January 20 and 21, looking at the capitalist system and how it might be resisted – how we can collectively “take the future into our hands instead of leaving it to the rulers”.
But before that an international protest has been called for Saturday January 13, gathering at 3pm at the Käfigturm off the Waisenhausplatz in the historic centre of the Swiss capital, Bern.
Say the Swiss anti-capitalists: “Capitalism and its policies are close to the abyss and states are prepared to prevent change with high levels of violence. Radical movements seeking to tackle the problems at their roots are being banned and suppressed across the world. Let’s put our resistance on the streets!”
Meanwhile, 500 miles to the north, at the other edge of German-speaking Europe, another protest against capitalist totalitarianism is being staged on Saturday March 17.
The demo in Hamburg is in protest at the massive levels of repression unleashed by an increasingly fascistic German state against anti-capitalists protesting against the G20 summit last summer.
While the shocking images of police brutality may have faded from the public’s mind, the repression continues, with ongoing police raids, arrests and prosecutions.
Many are warning that Germany is “sliding into fascism”.
The global neoliberal war on internet freedom has been particularly blatant in Germany, with Linksunten Indymedia being shut down by the state amidst fevered mainstream media scaremongering about the “threat” of left-wing “extremists”.
State violence against dissidents is becoming ever uglier, as during the recent protests against the far-right AfD.
For all their populist “anti-establishment” posturing, the extreme right in Germany and elsewhere have increasingly been revealed to be an intrinsic part of the authoritarian capitalist system; its shock-troops in fact. Their anti-Muslim rhetoric is closely linked to the racist and imperialist narrative of the pro-US, pro-Zionist establishment, as we reported in Acorn 37.
While police in Berlin police banned American and Israeli flags at a pro-Palestinian march in December, after some flag burning at a previous protest, the same capitalist-fascist robocop army protected AfD fascist-capitalists in Hannover, attacking their opponents with high-powered water cannon in freezing temperatures, leaving many injured.
Says a call for resistance from Berlin’s Rigaer 94 squat: “In this battle for capitalist and nationalist ends, the state will always end up demanding fascism. With the same tactics, they try time and time again to delegitimize resistance by branding it criminal, antisocial, and apolitical.
“The time of comfortable protests is long gone. Today, German society has arrived at an extreme it hasn’t reached in over 80 years.
“Determined and angry, despite the repression, we will fight against the ruling order!”
2. Fake democracy – neoliberals ramp up information war
It should by now be completely apparent to anyone paying attention that the US-led military-industrial-capitalist complex is a totalitarian system.
Until now, it has largely had the subtlety not to use its power of repression except when it really needs to, so that it can keep intact the crowd-control illusion of “democracy”.
Things are rapidly changing, though. Faced with serious cracks in its domination, it is clamping down on dissent in a big way.
The latest trick to disguise and justify its censorship is the “fake news” meme, a cunning plan to conflate invented content with content unwelcome to the political elite.
As Chris Hedges of the truthdig website states: “The corporate state is unnerved by the media outlets that give a voice to critics of corporate capitalism, the security and surveillance state and imperialism.”
The Civic Critic blogsite has produced a handy guide to “fake news” featuring a series of links to articles covering the phenomenon.
It says: “Started in late 2016 as a reference to made-up stories, hoaxes, and Onion-style parodies, ‘Fake News’ has since been adopted by Donald Trump and his supporters to describe any negative press. Those in many establishment news sources often use ‘Fake News’ to refer to ‘exaggerated, hyper-partisan, and conspiratorial journalism’. Fake News is thus perhaps best understood as a rhetorical weapon in a multi-faceted Information War.”
The clamp-down on information has rapidly accelerated at the start of 2018, as the World Socialist Web Site reported on Saturday January 6.
On January 1, for instance, the German government began implementing its new Network Enforcement Law, or “NetzDG”, which threatens social media companies with fines of up to €50 million if they do not immediately remove content deemed objectionable by the state.
The UK has adopted a slightly different approach, with minister of state for security Ben Wallace warning internet giants that they could be penalised through taxes if they fail to cooperate with government efforts to fight “terrorism and online extremism”.
In France, neoliberal “centrist” president Emmanuel Macron also obligingly leapt into action, announcing plans to counter “fake news” during elections by allowing state judges to block websites or user accounts.
Somewhat letting the cat out of the bag regarding the real political agenda behind the “fake news” meme, he declared: “Thousands of propaganda accounts on social networks are spreading all over the world, in all languages, lies invented to tarnish political officials, personalities, public figures, journalists”.
Tarnishing political officials? We can’t have that, can we?
Of course, in the back-to-front language of the capitalist elite, the aim of this “strong legislation” is not to impose capitalist rule but to “protect liberal democracies”, as Macron put it.
The invention of the term “fake news” to cover online censorship is no more subtle than the pre-existing excuses of “terrorism”, “extremism” or “hate-speech”. The co-ordinated use of these overlapping labels for the same purposes makes it obvious that there is a definite political agenda at work here.
Greenwald notes: “As is always true of censorship, there is one, and only one, principle driving all of this: power. Facebook will submit to and obey the censorship demands of governments and officials who actually wield power over it, while ignoring those who do not. That’s why declared enemies of the US and Israeli governments are vulnerable to censorship measures by Facebook, whereas US and Israeli officials (and their most tyrannical and repressive allies) are not.
One of the most shocking examples was the 2015 conviction of 12 protesters in France for “hate speech” which consisted merely of wearing T-shirts declaring “Long live Palestine, boycott Israel”.
The current attack on free speech is being co-ordinated by the upper echelons of the military-industrial-capitalist system.
The European Commission, for example, announced last year that it was forming a High Level Group “to advise on policy initiatives to counter fake news and the spread of disinformation online”.
Another leading player in the international initiative is a new US-based organisation called the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD).
Set up under the excuse of combating what it calls an “unprecedented attack” on United States democracy by Russia, it is described in its Wikipedia entry as a “transatlantic national security advocacy group”.
In case you haven’t caught the drift as to what this implies, note that the ASD is “chaired and run primarily by former senior United States intelligence and State Department officials”. The Washington Post called the membership of the advisory council “a who’s who of former senior national security officials”.
The original Marshall Plan was a $13,000,000,000 American “aid” scheme to Western Europe after the end of the Second World War, amounting to an economic and cultural occupation similar to that of the Soviet Union in the Eastern Block.
Noam Chomsky has described it as having “set the stage for large amounts of private US investment in Europe, establishing the basis for modern transnational corporations”.
The GMF carries on the same work. It helps maintain a full-spectrum US neoliberal control of Europe – or rather, in its own sweet language, it “strengthens transatlantic cooperation on regional, national, and global challenges and opportunities in the spirit of the Marshall Plan”.
It has dished out millions of Yankee dollars across Europe over the decades. It has also run a US-Europe parliamentary exchange program and the Marshall Memorial Fellowship, which has funded the exchange of more than 3,000 “emerging leaders” across the Atlantic.
Why? Simply to ensure that there is no real democracy in Europe and that all its politicians are obedient poodles to the US and its corporate controllers.
French president Macron is a product of the Marshall Memorial Fellowship scheme.
And German chancellor Angela Merkel celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan in June last year, alongside the odious imperialist warmonger Henry Kissinger.
She praised GMF’s work, saying: “For Germany, GMF helps to understand the American spirit. And, GMF helps Americans understand our country. For more than 45 years, GMF has served as a transatlantic exchange, building mutual understanding, providing information, clarifying positions, and identifying commonalties.”
The GMF is regarded as a pioneer of American “soft power” in Europe, but its work interfaces smoothly with the US military occupation. In 2004, it organized a major conference in Istanbul in the run-up to the NATO Summit.
It describes its mission as “sustaining, deepening and enlarging the liberal international order” – in other words, US neoliberal hegemony.
And it makes it clear that it is worried about the cracks currently appearing in the empire, stating: “This order is under assault on multiple fronts, both internal and external, and on both sides of the Atlantic: from populist forces in America to Russian interference in Western elections, from anti-EU movements to the backlash against new trade agreements, from the rise of great power revisionism to question marks over the future of US alliance leadership”.
As contributions to its own website make clear, the GMF aims to keep Europe firmly under the thumb of the US empire and of the multinational corporations in whose interests it functions.
It reacts with panic to any dent in the pro-American, pro-capitalist cultural and political “consensus” that it and other organisations have been working so hard to impose on the population of Europe since the Second World War.
A recent article by Alina Inayeh of the GMF’s Bucharest office cautions: “The transatlantic community, its values, and norms held rich intrinsic value in the early 1990s and provided an engine for change in Eastern Europe in subsequent years.
“But a transatlantic orientation has shifted from a major objective to a series of political, military, and economic transactions. The governments in both Central and Eastern Europe, facing elections throughout 2018 and 2019, will intensify their nationalist paths, and/or further slow their already almost stagnant adoption of transatlantic principles.
“At the same time, security and military cooperation will continue, pushed forward by real security threats and economic interests. But this cooperation will be isolated from transatlantic values, which will be ignored or even flouted.”
Rejection of the NATO occupation of Europe, rejection of neoliberal free trade agreements, rejection of capitalism – all of this represents a rejection of what Inayeh coyly terms “the transatlantic community, its values, and norms”.
This is why the GMF has launched the “fake news” meme and the ASD. This is why the Americans are ordering their European puppets like Macron and Merkel to take authoritarian action against dissent.
We should be very aware that the neoliberal-fascist elite will stop at nothing to ensure they cling on to total power.
As Hedges warns in his article: “This is a war of ideas. The corporate state cannot compete honestly in this contest. It will do what all despotic regimes do – govern through wholesale surveillance, lies, blacklists, false accusations of treason, heavy-handed censorship and, eventually, violence.”
The shock of Donald Trump’s presidential election victory has prompted an encouraging upsurge in militant anti-fascism in the USA.
Antifa have been particularly active, and effective, in mobilising against American Nazis and racists who have been emboldened by Trump’s ascent and see their toxic ideas as being in the ascendancy.
However, Antifa’s success has inevitably prompted a backlash from opponents and as part of this reaction one particular journal has been consistently smearing and attacking them (see here, here and here).
The labels it uses are themselves a big giveaway as to its bias. The Nazis are politely described according to their own self-description, as “white nationalists”, while Antifa are termed “anti-fascist extremists”.
Notorious US racist Richard Spencer is presented merely as a “white-nationalist leader who organized free-speech rallies on many campuses” and given a direct voice in the report, promising that “he plans to take his movement to more universities in 2018”.
Antifa are depicted as a “secret” and “violent” organisation adopting the tactics of the Nazis, with the heavy implication that they are even more of a threat, basically terrorists, and that the authorities ought to clamp down on them fast.
Readers are told: “Federal authorities have been warning state and local officials since early 2016 that leftist extremists known as ‘antifa’ had become increasingly confrontational and dangerous, so much so that the Department of Homeland Security formally classified their activities as ‘domestic terrorist violence’.
“By the spring of 2016, the anarchist groups had become so aggressive, including making armed attacks on individuals and small groups of perceived enemies, that federal officials launched a global investigation with the help of the US intelligence community, according to the DHS and FBI assessment.
“The purpose of the investigation, according to the April 2016 assessment: To determine whether the US-based anarchists might start committing terrorist bombings like their counterparts in ‘foreign anarchist extremist movements’ in Greece, Italy and Mexico, possibly at the Republican and Democratic conventions that summer.
“Several state law enforcement officials said that all of those accelerating factors have come to pass. And recent FBI and DHS reports confirm they are actively monitoring ‘conduct deemed potentially suspicious and indicative of terrorist activity’ by antifa groups.”
What has surprised anti-fascists is that the magazine in question, Politico, is not usually regarded as part of the far right, but rather of the Center, or Centre as we spell it in the UK.
So what is behind Politico’s obvious hostility to Antifa? What political agenda lies behind its scaremongering propaganda?
The first clue should come from the fact that Politico is associated with “The Center/Centre”. As we said in Acorn 34, this is an insidious term used to define extreme neoliberal capitalism as a norm, as a default position, as a “common sense” non-ideology whose assumptions and aims can never be fundamentally challenged, except by “extremists”.
French president Emmanuel Macron is a centrist. So is former UK prime minister Tony Blair. Say no more!
The second clue relates to the origin of its stories about the US authorities’ concerns over the Antifa “threat”. Politico tries to get away with implying that they have merely received leaked official documents but, as It’s Going Down notes, they themselves take up the official “domestic terrorist” line with great gusto.
Politico seem to be very close to mysterious sources such as “a senior state law enforcement official”. When they write of “interviews and confidential law enforcement documents obtained by Politico“, how exactly were these documents “obtained”? Via an unauthorised leak or over a cosy lunch?
Politico’s concerns about Antifa are very much the concerns of the authorities. There is, for example, much anxiety about several significant “intelligence gaps,” including an inability to penetrate the groups’ “diffuse and decentralized organizational structure”. [Trots please note!]
This stance is perhaps to be expected because research reveals that Politico is very closely linked to a shadowy political network which defines its role as defending the interests of US capitalism and imperialism.
Take, for example, its chief international affairs columnist Susan B. Glasser, who was in fact one of Politico’s founding editors.
A graduate of Harvard University, Glasser is former editor in chief of Foreign Policy magazine and spent four years travelling the former Soviet Union as The Washington Post’s Moscow co-bureau chief, covering the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When she’s not doing journalism, she is a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution which is, as we reported in Acorn 28, a high-profile US “Think Tank“, recently accused of having a “cozy relationship” with its corporate donors.
Glasser was mixing in similar circles in June 2017 when she had the honour of moderating an event called “The Eastern Mediterranean: Challenges, Opportunities, and the Path Ahead – A Conversation with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades” in Washington, DC.
And the organisers of the meeting? Why, none other than the GMF, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, which will be a familiar name to those of you who have already the article above this one…
Indeed, Politico seems to have long enjoyed a very warm relationship with the GMF, that noble defender of US neoliberal supremacy.
In November 2012, for instance, John Harris, editor-in-chief of Politico in Washington, DC, delivered the keynote address at a reception in Berlin marking the 30th anniversary of GMF’s Marshall Memorial Fellowship.
How come? Well, it turns out he not just a good pal of the GMF but a member of its Board of Trustees!
Readers will be pleased to hear that links between Politico and the GMF continue to be strong.
On Wednesday March 22, 2017, the German Marshall Plan’s Brussels Forum was staged at the Microsoft Center in the Belgian capital.
Many very worthy liberal and democratic organisations were represented, such as Google, ExxonMobil, Centrica, Chevron, BP, Deloitte, Raytheon and NATO.
It must have been quite a party. US Special Operations Command were there, and the US National Counterterrorism Center. And Israel Broadcasting. And the Mission of Israel to the European Union. And the European Association of Mining Industries
Douglas Carswell, the right-wing British politician and former UKIP MP, was among the participants. Oh, and of course, David Herszenhorn and Ryan Heath from Politico.
Heath’s biography reveals a background typical of Politico staff.
He began his illustrious career as a speechwriter for the British civil service, before joining the European Commission. His journalistic integrity means he is regularly sought out as a policy commentator by the likes of the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and Deutsche Welle and he has been trusted to report from major events such as the WEF meeting in Davos (see above), G7 summits, and US political conventions.
Again and again, Politico’s “journalists” turn out to have taken a similar path through life.
Like Heath, Kristina Kausch has a background with the European Commission, which has provided a two-year fellowship for her to work for the GMF in Brussels. She has been a non-resident associate of the CIA-linked Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and worked for the now-defunct “international development think tank” FRIDE.
Politico contributor Jamie Fly has a particularly impressive CV. A senior fellow at the GMF, he also works with its offshoot the ASD.
He served in the Bush administration at the National Security Council, and in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He was director for Counterproliferation Strategy at the National Security Council, where his portfolio included the Iranian nuclear program, Syria, missile defense and chemical weapons.
For his work in the Department of Defense, he was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service. He has also worked at the World Bank.
The GMF isn’t even very shy about its close links to Politico, publishing a link to this November 2017 article by Glasser which features Laura Rosenberger, director of the ASD and a senior fellow at the GMF.
Rosenberg’s bio informs us that she was previously foreign policy advisor for “Hillary for America” and prior to that, she served “in a range of positions at the State Department and the White House’s National Security Council”.
The GMF was particularly keen to endorse an “excellent” Politicoreport on the 2017 election victory of Emmanuel Macron, who is after all a leading “centrist” and product of the Marshall Memorial Fellowship scheme.
You could be forgiven for thinking that Politico was the GMF’s own in-house publication!
Having examined the nature of Politico’s political agenda, we can return to our initial question. Who is behind the smear attacks on Antifa?
Well, fascists of course! Fascists close to the American state who claim to be “centrists” defending liberal democracy against fake news and extremists, but fascists none the less.
The hypocrisy of states such as the UK when it comes to terrorism is simply breathtaking.
They relentlessly exploit the fear of terrorism to justify everything from foreign wars to erosion of freedom at home, while all the while being happy to use terrorists for their own ends.
A good example of this came from documents just released by the Irish government under their 30-year rule.
These included a 1987 letter from the loyalist terrorist group the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) addressed to the then Irish PM Charles Haughey.
The loyalists claimed their organisation was used by MI5 and MI6, backed up by British Army special forces, from 1972 to 1978 and again in 1985.
“In 1985 we were approached by a MI5 officer attached to the NIO (Northern Ireland Office) and based in Lisburn, Alex Jones was his supposed name,” the UVF said. “He asked us to execute you.”
The previously secret letter, on UVF headed paper, showed the loyalists told Mr Haughey that the MI5 operative gave details of his cars, photographs of his home, his island, Inishvickillane, and his yacht, Celtic Mist.
The UVF added: “MI5 were double-crossing us all the time we were working with them. We executed some of our best men believing them to be traitors”.
Documents such as these provide important insights into true nature of the UK state, not just in the past but in the present as well – and that is presumably why those lingering in the British archives tend to go missing.
The war in Ireland allowed the UK state to perfect “counterinsurgency” techniques which have subsequently been rolled out across the world.
Central to these were the theories of Brigadier Frank Kitson, as this recent article on the Bella Caledonia website sets out.
Kitson stressed the value of covert operations, the ‘turning’ of insurgents through ‘carrot and stick’ measures, and what he called ‘countergangs’ or ‘pseudogangs’, which could infiltrate or deceive insurgents.
“In essence, Kitson envisaged the paramilitarisation of the British Army, switching its focus from conventional to unconventional warfare, training troops ‘to support civil power’ in mock-ups of Belfast streets, adopting the techniques of insurgents, and fighting ‘terrorism’ with state terror units in a form of gang warfare,” says the article.
He was also a pioneer of psyops (psychological operations) and media manipulation by briefing and spin, and he established close relationships with British journalists in Northern Ireland, turning them into “useful mouthpieces”.
The existence of these pseudogangs and psyops, and the way they are deployed by the secret state, is key to understanding the world around us.
Historically, the whole history of NATO’s “Gladio” stay-behind/terror network in Western Europe is worth studying – this 1992 BBC documentary film is an excellent introduction.
And there are plenty of writers specialising in exposing these shadowy areas – in the UK notably Nafeez Ahmed, Robin Ramsey and Mark Curtis, whose latest book, an updated version of Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam has just been published.
Humankind needs to reconnect with an ancient anarchic wisdom which has been deliberately hidden from us by the dominant industrial capitalist system, says Winter Oak author Paul Cudenec in his first blogpost of 2018.
He explains: “This philosophy has always existed as an underground heresy beneath the surface of dominant society and emerges again and again in renewed forms throughout history”.
A key part of this philosophy, he says, is a sense of unity, a sense of our belonging to a greater whole.
“Human beings, because they are living parts of a universal organism, are imbued with the same patterns and structures as the rest of the Universe and, of course, as the rest of the natural world on this planet.
“Significantly, this includes our mental processes. Human thinking, including our philosophies, is a continuation of the complex patterns of the cosmos and of nature and not something outside of them.
“Just as our existence is part of the existence of the Universe, so is our thinking part of the thinking of the Universe. Our thinking is the Universe’s thinking and our thinking is nature’s thinking – both interpreted through the filter of our particular human existence.
“The structures of the Universe and of nature are contained deep within us and are reflected in the physical reality of our bodies and in the abstract realities of the thinking generated by our physical bodies.
“This would continue to be the case even if every single human being alive today denied that it was so. But the Wisdom maintains that an awareness of this innate structure is essential to an understanding of who we are and how we should live.
“Individuals are all manifestations of the Universe. This Universe needs there to be physical forms of reality so that it can actually exist as a physical entity, rather than as an abstract idea; it needs there to be living physical beings so that it can also be alive and it needs there to be actual physical thinking happening so that it can, itself, think.
“The Universe also needs individual human beings to act on their thinking, so that it too can, through them, act on its (decentralised) thinking. How else can the Universe, the sum of all reality, be present in its own self-forming other than through the actions of its constituent parts?
“Our actions, our lives, are the Universe in the act of self-creation. Our doing something is the Universe establishing its own shape, through us. Nothing we do has already happened, or already been planned. As we do it, it becomes real.”
Explaining the thinking behind this approach, Cudenec writes: “A philosophy combining contemporary anarchist insights with the age-old Wisdom I have been outlining is a powerful one, which is why it is deemed so unacceptable, so unthinkable, by modern capitalist-friendly thinking.
“It represents, for me, our best chance of finding the collective mental strength and courage to walk out of this dark industrial capitalist nightmare towards a bright and free future”.
Attacks and smears against anarchists by the Brazilian state and corporate media is the theme of an emotive new video on the submedia site. It declares: “Let’s not fool ourselves, we’re in the middle of a war. A disguised and all-pervasive war. A war between the oppressors and the oppressed; between the rich and everybody else…”
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“Democracy encourages a liberal Western concept of the individual, of the individual as this isolated unit with rights that pertain to public participation, which means participation within a centralised and hierarchical sphere of decision-making, rather than this organic being in the world who exists according to communal relationships, according to relationships with the natural environment.” So says US anarchist author Peter Gelderloos in an in-depth audio interview which can be heard here.
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Consumer culture is creating a psycho-spiritual crisis, writes John F Schumaker in an article on the opendemocracy website. He says: “Without an existential compass, the commercialized mind gravitates toward a ‘philosophy of futility’, as Noam Chomsky calls it, in which people feel naked of power and significance beyond their conditioned role as pliant consumers. Lacking substance and depth, and adrift from others and themselves, the thin and fragile consumer self is easily fragmented and dispirited… Consumerism and psychic deadness are inexorable bedfellows.”
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The UK’s Anarchist Action Network meeting planned for December had to be postponed because of snow, so it has been rearranged. It will now be held on Sunday January 21, from 1pm to 4pm, at the Cowley Club, 12 London Rd, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 4JA. All anarchists welcome.
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“We acknowledge no authority higher than ourselves, and we will continue to act in accordance with the aspirations of our spirits for freedom and dignity. We will continue to fight in defense of Mother Earth, on behalf of future generations and all our relations, consequences be damned.” This was the powerful message relayed by Montreal Counter-Information in Quebec following the sentencing on December 18 of two anarchist comrades for their role in a 2015 direct action in which a pipeline was physically shut down. There is a fundraising page to help the activists pay costs.
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What are the effects of “screen culture” on human behaviour, intelligence and the environment? How did we get here? Who benefits? What may come next if this culture is left unchecked, to its end trajectory, and is that what we want? A thought-provoking new independent film by Jordan Brown, Stare Into The Lights My Pretties, investigates these questions with an urge to return to the real physical world, to form a critical view of technological escalation driven by rapacious and pervasive corporate interests. It can be seen here.
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“We need to make haste. Political censorship is becoming routine across the worldwide web. A free and open internet is to be abolished by the Trump administration. Dissent, once tolerated in the mainstream, has regressed to a metaphoric underground as liberal democracy moves towards a form of corporate dictatorship.” The timely warning comes from veteran investigative reporter John Pilger in an excellent talk which can be seen online. He says: “This is an historic shift and the media, both mainstream media and social media, must not be allowed to be the facade of this new order and should be subjected to direct action.”
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Fans of Winnie the Pooh will be delighted to hear that he, Piglet, Eeyore and friends feature in a brand new 21st century vignette of English rural life, in which the Hundred Acre Wood is targeted for fracking, Tigger gets arrested and Pooh invents the lock-on by mistake. Open the first page here.
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Acorn quote: “I have used the myth of the goddess Gaia to express the idea that we are an integral part of a single, intelligent life-form which acts like an individual. I have tried to show how it is that we can never separate ourselves from this life-form, despite our delusions of dominance and control, because should we succeed in doing so, we would be committing an irreversible act of mass suicide: as if an arm tried to exist separately from the body”.