The Acorn – 49

acorn 2019b

Number 49

In this issue:

  1. Deepening our resistance
  2. Why I decided to fight: letter from a Yellow Vest prisoner
  3. Julian Assange: enemy of the empire
  4. The modern leftist
  5. Rudolf Rocker: an orgrad inspiration
  6. Acorninfo

1. Deepening our resistance

Synchronicity has a funny way of throwing together two apparently unrelated events in  a way that invites comparison.

This was the case, for instance, with Saturday November 17 2018, the day on which both the Gilets Jaunes in France and Extinction Rebellion (XR) in the UK were launched onto their respective national stages.

Initially, the comparison appeared to favour XR, from our perspective at least. In Britain, altruistic environmentally-aware protesters were battling to save the planet, while across the Channel the Yellow Vests were upset about a rise in petrol prices.

But that perception rapidly changed.

The Gilets Jaunes, attacked by the police, smeared by the corporate media, despised by government and business elites, clearly represent a serious and genuine radical challenge to the existing order (see our Gilets Jaunes page).

XR, big pals with the police, frequently feted by the corporate media, adored by a significant part of the government and business elites, are clearly seriously compromised by their close connections with the existing order (see our Climate Capitalists page).

We saw another synchronicity in the fact that the new organic radicalism project (see Acorn 48 and orgrad.wordpress.com) was unveiled at the same time as the latest XR happening and all the controversy surrounding it.

Again, at first sight the comparison might seem favourable to the climate protesters. One small group of people present a political ideology or philosophy built on wisdom accumulated over many decades, centuries and even millennia. But it’s all just words, which modern people are too busy to read.

Another, much larger, group actually does something. It takes to the streets, blocks one of the world’s great capital cities for days on end, draws everyone’s attention to climate change, miraculously forces the British parliament to declare a “climate emergency”.

But, in fact, close scrutiny of XR and the climate movement as a whole suggests that all this rebellious energy is in danger of being channelled into a cunning ploy to relaunch capitalism.

The plan is to use a “Green New Deal” and a “New Deal for Nature” to spark a “Fourth Industrial Revolution” which will make a lot of people very rich, including the venture capitalists who have voiced support for XR.

Obviously the people involved on the ground in the XR London protests were not willingly part of a capitalist plot. Obviously they are not stupid and many must have been aware of the danger of their struggle being co-opted. Hopefully many of them will break free from the “leadership” and organise autonomously and radically.

But there is a major problem behind this wave of environmental protest which goes beyond the detail of the signatories of the XR Business letter to The Times or the corporate links to the climate campaigns set out with painstaking detail by investigative journalist Cory Morningstar.

The problem is with the use of the term “climate” as the cornerstone of the movement.

We are not saying that climate change is not real and dangerous but it is by no means all that is really dangerous about industrial capitalism.

What about extractivism in general, not just for fossil fuels? What about pesticides? What about nanoparticles? What about all the rest of the pollution, contamination and destruction that forms part of this nightmare industrial age?

Solar panels don’t grow on trees

It won’t disappear with the measures being proposed to deal with climate change. All that hi-tech carbon capture technology, all those solar panels covering the world’s deserts, all those wind turbines cluttering our coastlines, will still need to be manufactured in polluting factories, using raw materials mined out of the flesh of Mother Earth.

Fighting under the banner of “the climate” is a severe weakness for the environmental movement because it means the issue can be picked off, channelled and neutralised.

If “the climate” is the problem, then capitalism is on hand to sell us the solution.

 

The money-orientated approach is always about superficial responses. If you have got a cold, a drugs company will sell you a product to suppress the symptoms. But you will still have a cold and it will probably last three times as long because your body will be prevented from expelling toxins in the way it knows best.

If environmentalists place climate issues within the larger context of what our culture has become, then the capitalists can have no quick-fix solution to sell us. There is no sales opportunity for them. They cannot latch on to a movement which aims to see their empire of greed and profit taken down.

The narrow fixation with “climate” on the current environmental scene is part of a larger issue, namely that of fragmented thinking.

It is here that the relevance of organic radicalism comes in. Again and again, the thinkers who inspired this philosophy condemned the modern tendency towards fragmented thought.

The same point is made in different ways by the likes of neurologist and psychiatrist Kurt Goldstein, psychologist Max Wertheimer, philosopher Alan Watts, anti-industrialist writer Theodore Roszak and  editor Satish Kumar.

Indeed Kumar has specifically mentioned “climate” in this context, saying: “I am constantly reminding people to think holistically, think in a bigger way, a spiritual way, rather than get stuck in this one idea that climate change is the problem, or this or that is the problem. Our problems are interrelated”.

He adds: “The actions of environmentalists will lead to tears if they don’t come from the place of the spirit. Their activism can end up in nuclear power or genetic engineering or the whole countryside covered with windmills or solar panels and no trees left anywhere”.

Satish Kumar: environmentalists need to think holistically

Fragmentation is a problem which goes to the heart of the failure of our civilization. We have lost sight of the holistic unity of things and see only unconnected separate items forming no coherent pattern. We don’t see a wood, just trees. There is no such thing as society, only individuals. The idea that humankind is part of nature is regarded as a naive fantasy.

On the political level, once we start fragmenting our understanding into separate issues, we cut those issues off from the whole of which they are part.

Racism and sexism, for instance, can only really be understood within a wider context of our relationship to “the other”, of complex patterns of projection, power and domination.

“We are not fighting for nature. We are nature defending itself”

An organic radical perspective insists on the unity of the human species as an organic entity, and on humankind’s belonging to the living world and the cosmos beyond.

It challenges the individualism, the subjectivism, the “me first”, the “I think therefore I am”, that underpins our whole modern culture.

Fragmented thinking just talks about racism or sexism as separate issues. And, lo and behold, in isolation they can easily be “solved” (in fact, hidden from view!) by the system.

“Racism is over – here’s a black president! Sexism is over – look how many CEOs of rapacious capitalist corporations are now women!”

“You say CO2 is the problem? We have just the machine you need? Can’t afford it? You’d better declare a climate emergency and raid the public piggy bank to buy it from us!”

Organic radicalism is an attempt to counter fragmented thinking in anti-capitalist and environmental circles.

It is an attempt to give our movements real philosophical roots, to make them strong and alive.

The name given to this deeper understanding is not important, of course. It has appeared in many forms throughout history and will do so again.

Whatever we choose to call it, we badly need this ancient and powerful wisdom to guide us away from traps and dead-ends and to steer us into the free and healthy future for which we yearn.

greenanarchistforest

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2. Why I decided to fight: letter from a Yellow Vest prisoner

Thomas P is just one of many Gilets Jaunes prisoners in France, locked up for their participation in the mass uprising against the neoliberal Macron regime. Below are some excerpts from an open letter he wrote from jail, after three months behind bars.

One is no longer innocent when one has seen ‘legitimate’ violence, legal violence: that of the police.

I saw the hatred or emptiness in their eyes and I heard their chilling warnings: ‘disperse, go home’.

I saw the charges, grenades, and beatings in general.

I saw the checks, searches, traps, arrests, and jail.

I saw people falling, blood, I saw the mutilated.

Like all those who were demonstrating this February 9th, I learned that once again a man had just had his hand ripped off by a grenade.

And then I did not see anything any more, because of the gas. All of us were suffocating.

That’s when I decided not to be a victim any more and to fight.

I’m proud of it. Proud to have raised my head, proud not to have given in to fear.

Of course, like all those who are targeted by the repression against the Yellow Vests movement, I first protested peacefully and daily, I always solved problems with words rather than with fists.

But I am convinced that in some situations conflict is needed.

Because debate, however ‘big’ it may be, can sometimes be rigged or distorted. All that is needed is for the organiser to ask the questions in a way that suits them.

We are told on one side that the state coffers are empty, but we are bailing out the banks with millions when they are in trouble, we are talking about an ‘ecological transition’ without ever calling into question the production system and consumption at the origin of all climatic disturbances.

We are millions who shout at them, saying that their system is rotten, and they are telling us how they are trying to save it.

The challenge of street clashes is to manage to push back the police, to keep them in line: to get out of a trap, to reach a place of power, or to simply take the street.

Since November 17th those who have threatened to fire their weapons, those who brutalise, mutilate, and suffocate unarmed and defenceless protesters, those who are not the so-called ‘breakers’, they are the police.

If the media does not talk about it, the hundreds of thousands of people who have been at the roundabouts and in the streets know it.

Behind their brutality and threats, it is fear that is hiding.

And when that moment comes, in general, it means that the revolution is not far away.

Read the full English translation of the letter here.

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3. Julian Assange: an enemy of the empire

Rarely has the arrogant imperialism of the USA been so blatantly exposed as by the case of Julian Assange.

On Monday May 13 Swedish authorities announced, bizarrely, that they were reopening the long-dropped “rape” investigation against the Wikileaks founder.

Assange’s lawyer Per E Samuelson told Swedish TV the decision to reopen the investigation was “an embarrassment”, while WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said it would give Assange a chance to clear his name.

Assange is also still facing the extraordinary prospect of extradiction and trial in the US, despite not being American and not being alleged to having committed any offence on US soil.

The “world’s policeman” apparently has the right to punish anyone, anywhere in the world, who it considers its enemy, and supine vassal states like the UK are only too eager to go along with this.

The twist in the Assange case is that the “crime” he is said to have committed is precisely to have exposed, through Wikileaks, the arrogant imperialism of which he is now a victim.

Having been illegally dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy with the UK political police, he is being treated with all the justice that might have been afforded a political dissident in Stalin’s USSR.

As historian Mark Curtis has pointed out, UK government minister Alan Duncan called Assange a “miserable little worm”, the judge called him “narcissistic” and he received a grossly disproportionate sentence on the bail issue.

“Is Assange even going to receive a fair trial?” asks Curtis. The question seems rhetorical.

Veteran investigative journalist John Pilger wrote: “The shocking arrest of Assange carries a warning for all who, as Oscar Wilde wrote, ‘sow the seeds of discontent [without which] there would be no advance towards civilisation’.

“The warning is explicit towards journalists. What happened to the founder and editor of WikiLeaks can happen to you on a newspaper, you in a TV studio, you on radio, you running a podcast”.

Our comrades at Shoal, a collective of independent journalists, also voiced concern at the precedent which would be set by the extradition of Assange to the USA.

They asked: “Would the same judicial process apply to journalists who offended the sensibilities of the governments of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel or Russia?”

Meanwhile, the constant sneering from the corporate media merely confirms what many have long known – that these so-called journalists are nothing but servile protectors of the system, ready to dance and write to any authoritarian tune their bosses ask them to.

There are also question marks over a liberal-left consensus which is too easily swayed by dog-whistle smears engineered to destroy the reputation of any effective enemy of the system.

Former ambassador Craig Murray raised this point when he wrote: “All the false left who were taken in by the security services playing upon a feminist mantra should take a very hard look at themselves. They should also consider this.

“If you seriously put forward that in allegations of sexual assault, the accuser must always be believed and the accused must automatically be presumed guilty, you are handing an awesome power to the state to lock people up without proper defence.

“The state will abuse that awesome power and fit people up. The Assange case shows us just that. And it is not the only case, currently, as everyone in Scotland should realise.

“But there is more. If you believe that any sexual accusation against a person should be believed and automatically and immediately end their societal respectability, you are giving power to state and society to exclude dissidents and critics from political discourse by a simple act of accusation.

“That power will be used and abused by the security services”.

If you are one of those comrades who has reservations about supporting Assange, we would humbly suggest you read Caitlin Johnstone’s comprehensive article “Debunking All The Assange Smears“.

For more information on the case see the Defend Wikileaks website.

 

 

 

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4. The modern leftist

This thought-provoking passage is taken from Darren Allen’s 33 Myths of The System: A Brief Guide to the Unworld. The whole book is available for free download here. We should declare that we consider ourselves to be leftists, so we have to accept our fair share of the criticism…

The modern leftist complains about ‘victim-blaming’ yet never criticises the system which relentlessly suppresses the idea that the environment causes conflict, crime, physical ill-health or outright madness.

The modern leftist complains about ‘objectification’ yet sees the entire world and everyone in it as a collection of categories; you are not an individual, you are ‘white’ or ‘a man’.

The well-to-do leftist regularly expresses ‘solidarity’ [i.e. intense identification] with those most affected by the system (the global poor and excluded) while making demeaning professional interventions in their lives and patronising pronouncements about how they should resist the system.

The modern leftist complains about ‘fragile egos,’ yet demonstrably possesses a self so extraordinarily delicate and brittle, it can shatter at (be traumatised, triggered, even infected by) a word.

The modern leftist complains about ‘being silenced,’ yet shuts down all criticism immediately and ferociously with arguments largely based on belittling interlocutors, or ruling out their entire view based on a single piece of information, rather than on making a persuasive case.

The reactive leftist regularly meets fact, knowledge and truth (1) with feeling (2) — ‘what you are saying is irrelevant, because it (it and nothing else; certainly not powerful social forces that stand to benefit from my feelings) makes me feel threatened, offended and angry; and because you do not belong to my category, you can never understand this feeling’ — a minority version of the standard mainstream position; reality is what we say it is (3).
.
The modern leftist has a great deal of difficulty speaking for himself; opinions are prefaced with ‘as a’ [homosexual, white man, a writer, a mammal].

The modern leftist believes himself to be cruelly abused, not just constantly harping on the actual insults he receives (‘see how awful they all are! look what names they call me!’) but constantly interpreting as derogatory ‘pretty much anything that is said about him (or about groups with whom he identified)’ (4).
.
The institutional leftist believes herself to be a radical while aspiring to state control and  professional advancement, regularly supporting centralised, hierarchical or artificially distributed power, happily working for a large corporation, or implicitly supporting apparently opposed ideologies (e.g. the absurd collusion between feminism and Islam).

The postmodern leftist often claims that knowledge is a product of one’s race, privilege, gender and so on, yet demands that her intensely relative philosophy (5) take first place on the institutional syllabus.

The modern leftist — black and white, male, female and transgender, able-bodied and disabled — is terrified of the total abolition of the system.

1. Which are not the same thing.
2. Actually, or more accurately speaking, emotion. The difference is discussed in 33 Myths of the Ego.
3. Or ‘power determines reality’. The modern leftist may be in an inferior or minority position, but the group as a whole is still enormously powerful and the individual still has power to stir up emotion and create justifying belief based thereon.
4. As Kaczynski points out.
5. The philosophy of the modern left is actually an extreme form of ‘nominalism’, the idea that if you change what something is called, you change the thing itself. Another word for this is ‘magic’.

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5. Rudolf Rocker: an orgrad inspiration

From orgrad.wordpress.com

Rudolf Rocker (1873-1958) was an anarchist activist, theorist and writer who became well known in Germany, Britain and the USA.

His importance lies in the way that he used the idea of a “social organism” (1) as the basis for his internationalist anarchist philosophy.

For instance, in his 1937 book Nationalism and Culture, Rocker argued that nationalism was reactionary because it imposed artificial separations within the “organic unity” (2) of humankind.

He insisted that the nation was not something that existed naturally, and which then formed a state to protect its interests, as commonly imagined, but a fake entity invented to justify hierarchy and control: “It is the state which creates the nation, not the nation the state”. (3)

He added in the book Anarcho-Syndicalism (1938): “Dictatorship is the negation of organic development, of natural building from below upwards”. (4)

Rocker had been a conventional socialist in his youth and, like Gustav Landauer, often expressed his frustration at how that movement had failed to inspire authentic revolt against the capitalist system, allowing the Nazis to exploit discontent and sweep to power in his native Germany.

The socialist movement’s historic failure was partly a result of its participation in parliamentary politics, which he said had affected it “like an insidious poison”, spreading the “ruinous delusion that salvation always comes from above”. (5)

He added: “It did not even possess the moral strength to hold on to the achievements of bourgeois Democracy and Liberalism, and surrendered the country without resistance to Fascism, which smashed the entire labour movement to bits with one blow”. (6)

Rocker reminded his readers that the German Social Democrats had, in practice, ceased to be a revolutionary party and that when the November Revolution broke out in 1918 their newspaper, Vorwärts, warned workers against rushing to take part because it said the German people were not ready for a republic.

He concluded: “Its absolute impotence contributed not a little to enabling Germany to bask today in the sun of the Third Reich”. (7)

Rocker saw that socialism at the beginning of the 20th century had drifted into a “gradual assimilation to the modes of thought of capitalist society” (8) – a fate which threatens other supposedly radical currents 100 years later.

In contrast to this, he developed a revolutionary philosophy which, in Noam Chomsky’s words, “stands in opposition to all the dominant tendencies in modern social and political thought”. (9)

Noam Chomsky

Explains Chomsky: “In Rocker’s radically different conception, people must take their lives and their work into their own hands. Only through their own struggle for liberation will ordinary people come to comprehend their true nature, suppressed and distorted within institutional structures designed to assure obedience and subordination”. (10)

In rejecting the lie of salvation from above, Rocker pointed to the potential for liberation from below, from within, from what Chomsky describes as a “deeply rooted striving for freedom, justice, compassion and solidarity”. (11)

Rocker’s vision was, of course, an anarchist vision – an organic anarchist vision, in fact – and he highlighted the contrast between the vibrant Spanish anarchism of the 1930s and socialism in his home country.

He wrote: “The libertarian labour movement in Spain has never lost itself in the labyrinth of an economic metaphysics which crippled its intellectual buoyancy by fatalistic conceptions, as was the case in Germany; nor has it unprofitably wasted its energy in the barren routine tasks of bourgeois parliaments.

“Socialism was for it a concern of the people, an organic growth proceeding from the activity of the masses themselves and having its basis in their economic organizations”. (12)

For Rocker, anarchism was not some kind of fixed, self-enclosed social system, but a current which battled for the “free unhindered unfolding of all the individual and social forces in life”. (13)

The possibility of another world, a free anarchist world, was already there within human nature and the goal of anarchism was to release this “vital concrete possibility for every human being to bring to full development all the powers, capacities and talents with which nature has endowed him, and turn them to social account”. (14)

The less the “natural development” (15) of humanity was constrained by any kind of authority, the more harmonious it would be.

Freedom, that is to say the right to unhindered individual and collective self-fulfilment, therefore had to be defended against social and economic tyranny by “the violent resistance of the populace”. (16)

Rocker wrote: “Great mass movements among the people and whole revolutions have been necessary to wrest these rights from the ruling classes, who would never have consented to them voluntarily. One need only study the history of the past three hundred years to understand by what relentless struggles every right has to be wrested inch by inch from the despots”. (17)

Rocker’s explanation of the effects of industrial society on its human victims echoes Ferdinand Tönnies’ account of the transition from traditional Gemeinschaft (community) to industrial-capitalist Gesellschaft (society).

He wrote that the natural human ties which had previously existed between the old master-workman and his journeymen had no meaning for the modern proletarian, who, since the industrial revolution, had become merely an object of exploitation by a class with which he no longer had any social relationship.

“Socially uprooted, he had become just a component of a great mass of shipwrecked beings, who had all been smitten by the same fate.

“The modern proletarian, he was the man of the machine, a machine of flesh and blood who set the machine of steel in motion, to create wealth for others, while the actual producer of this wealth must perish in misery”. (18)

Rocker fled his native Germany to escape repression in 1892 and ended up in England, “the mother country of capitalist big industry”. (19)

Although he was a Gentile, he became involved in the Jewish anarchist movement in London, learnt Yiddish and lived in the Jewish community.

He was interned during the First World War, and in 1918 he was deported from Britain and returned to Germany, only to be forced out of his home country by the arrival of the Nazi regime in 1933. He spent the rest of his life in the USA.

1. Rudolf Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism (London: Pluto Press, 1989), p. 11.
2. Rudolf Rocker, Nationalism and Culture, cit. Peter Marshall, Demanding the Impossible: A History of Anarchism, (London: Fontana Press, 1993), p. 419.
3. Ibid.
4. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 75.
5. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 83.
6. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 85.
7. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 97.
8. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 84.
9. Noam Chomsky, Preface, Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. vi.
10. Chomsky, Preface, Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. vii.
11. Ibid.
12. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 98.
13. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 31.
14. Ibid.
15. Ibid.
16. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, pp. 111-12.
17. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 112.
18. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 43.
19. Rocker, Anarcho-Syndicalism, p. 56.

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6. Acorninfo

Following the success of the 2018 decentralised anarchist festival in London, the 2019 version is being extended across the UK and Ireland. Explains the website: “The idea is simple: groups put on their own programme of anarchist events, concentrating on the dates of the long weekend of 31st May to the 2nd June 2019”. Check out the programme here.

* * *

Green Anti-Capitalist Front, the activist organisation formed to give a radical edge to XR’s London protests, is going from strength to strength. On May 4, around 70 people attended its second open assembly, noting the greenwashing agenda behind the so-called Green New Deal, putting an emphasis on anti-imperialism and solidarity with the Global South and calling for direct action in response to specific ecological threats, like airport expansions.

* * *

The fight is on to stop a theme park being built on the bonnie bonnie banks of Loch Lomond. Explain Save Loch Lomond campaigners: “The developer’s own Environmental Impact Assessments states that there will be damage to ancient woodland, pollution of standing and running water, red squirrel and otter fatalities and more, all for the construction of woodland lodges, treetop walkways, a hotel, restaurant, brewery, a monorail and much more, all to be built on what is currently public land but which will be sold off to the developer. This is about protecting our world-famous environment but it’s also about the fundamental question of who owns Scotland and who our beautiful country is for”.

* * *

Brazil is a neoliberal state which has fostered economic development at any price through capital incentives. After Australia, it is the second largest ore exporter in the world and is scarred by no fewer than 430 ore dams. This report on the guilhotina.info site warns that the mining business has turned the country into a time bomb, with disaster after disaster caused by the industry’s greed. Movements opposing the dams have been met with repression and assassinations.

* * *

Resistance News is a free monthly newsletter providing analysis and commentary on ecology, global capitalism, empire, and revolution, linked to the Deep Green Resistance News Service. The May 2019 issue can be found here.

* * *

A new international campaign has been launched to defend the Rojava revolution and its achievements. Riseup4Rojava’s online call declares: “We must expose and attack the military and diplomatic cooperation between the AKP-MHP government and opportunist governments of the USA and Western European states. We have to build a collective resistance against the cooperation of our governments with Turkish fascism”.

* * *

“Extinction Rebellion is part of our capitalist system” – according to Bill Jamieson, business writer at The Scotsman. “Climate change activism and campaigns for sustainability are part and parcel of capitalist progression”, he adds, in case we had not caught his drift. And who is Bill? “He is a passionate advocate of the positive overall economic effects of championing entrepreneurs and why over-regulation and risk aversion can damage our economy”, say specialistseakers.com.

* * *

Acorn quote: “What is an anarchist? One who, choosing, accepts the responsibility of choice”.

Ursula K. Le Guin

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

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Green and yellow: our common struggle against liberal-fascism

yellow-green1

Here is a quick translation of an important piece on the French lundi matin website, close to The Invisible Committee. Radical ecologists call for a convergence with the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vest) movement in the struggle against the neoliberal system which is destroying the living planet.

[Photos : Nour]

For more than five months now, hundreds of thousands of people in every corner of France have been fighting against the neoliberal steamroller represented with such singular brutality by the Macronist regime.

This revolt, which began on the roundabouts, places of conviviality and self-organisation which at times looked quasi-insurrectional, is part of a history of revolutionary uprisings which have interrupted the course of the prescribed order.

It is a simple fact that the intensity and surprising staying-power of this revolt were born from moments of shared experience, from what you could call the ungovernable “commons”.

In a space which was supposed to be occupied only by the icy waters of the Economy, bearing its gifts of subordination, atomisation, resignation and silence, in a space where we were only supposed to be able to hear the chattering of those in power, of experts and of journalists, long-silenced voices made themselves heard.

It was no surprise that the first repressive measures were aimed at destroying this conviviality by evicting roundabouts, demolishing protesters’ cabins and making it impossible for them to block roads or experience shared empowerment.

Stubborn Yellow Vest resistance was countered by repression of rare violence: Zineb Redouane was killed in Marseilles by a grenade fired by the police; dozens were mutilated, hundreds locked up and thousands charged.

On top of this there was the ultra-aggressive and arrogant propaganda war waged by a media which was almost unanimously against the rebels. After the insults and contempt, after the ferocious repression, after special new laws, they now want to make it acceptable to use armed intervention against demonstrators. To be clear, they want nothing less than to be able to fire on the crowd with live ammunition.

yellow-green2

Emmanuel Macron, basking in his historic mission, is going about a reorganisation of the forms of government. In doing so, he is carried by a surge which has come from far away and is sweeping the world: the extension of the fascist elements of neoliberalism.

Unlike historical fascism, this global project does not want to rule the whole world by means of the State, but instead by the Economy, to which all state institutions must be subservient.

We call this approach to governing “liberal-fascist”. It is not fundamentally about state control but about economic control of the world and of our lives in the fanatical aim of pulling into its grasp every single being, every single thing and everything around them.

They will use force and violence against all the runaways and nobodies who resist their world.

Beyond the level of mere words, what real difference is there between Salvini’s Italy and Macron’s France? Does not each of them let thousands of migrants die at sea, when they are not locking up them en masse in detention centres, while criminalising hospitality?

Aren’t they both engaged in the destruction of the last remnants of social protection and public services, in the pauperisation of the working classes, in the destruction of solidarity?

But that’s not all: nobody can pretend not to know that this insane acceleration of capitalism which they are pursuing is also leading to the collapse of our means of living, to the poisoning of earth, water and air, to inevitable climate chaos with unprecedented consequences.

yellow-green3

The breathtaking impact of this series of disasters, both existing and to come, has opened the way for new perceptions and realisations in our relationship to the world. And these have led increasingly huge numbers of people to take action, from ZAD eco-camps to climate protests. More and more eco-activists are turning their backs on political parties, those crumbling temples to their leaders’ blatant career ambitions, and are looking elsewhere for answers on the scale of the challenges we are facing.

This deep change in awareness has also seen a renewed attention to words, to what they show us and what they hide. Thus, more and more people are refusing to use the word “Anthropocene” to describe this age of environmental devastation which just gets worse from decade to decade. The term suggests we are all equally responsible and a preferable one is “Capitalocene”. We have to properly identify the systematic and all-embracing force behind this disaster: it is capitalism and its forms of government.

Everywhere we are witnessing a profound crisis in political representation; with the revolt of the Gilets Jaunes like those of the new eco-movements. The happy flip-side of this crisis is the emergence of new communities of struggle, experiments in our ways of inhabiting the world. But here, the question we have to ask is the following: do we seriously think that it is enough to protest for the climate on A to B marches; to launch petitions; to “raise the awareness” of governments? Can we keep on ignoring other forms of revolt which are suffering the brutal violence of the State? Can we really just aspire to be governed a bit better?

Certain organisers of climate marches last autumn now admit it: they “messed up”. And they find themselves a few days later in a police cell like a common Yellow Vest. Too politically inoffensive, trying at all costs to find the vaguest lowest common denominator at the expense of strategic innovation, drawing up lists of grievances for the attention of the authorities rather than challenging the institutions of power. Now eco-collectives are telling us it is time to rebel.

We definitely need to reaffirm communal ways of living; mutual aid, sharing. We need to experiment with new kinds of solidarity and hospitality. And we need to take care of our ways of being in relation to the world. But aren’t these affirmations also, at one and the same time, negations of the dictates of the Economy? As “ecologists”, how can we not confront those who want to rule us in its name?

It is urgent to forge alliances against the disaster which, for the moment, is identified with Macron.

We invite you to join the meeting of environmental organisations and Gilets Jaunes which will be held on Wednesday April 24, from 7pm, at the Théâtre de l’Echangeur in Bagnolet, Paris.

Calls have been made for Saturday May 4 as a day for re-taking the roundabouts, streets and squares, with shared Yellow Vest banquets. Eco-activists should also take part.

Some eco-yellows.

Original article

More Gilets Jaunes articles

Organic radicalism

“This is a turning point in history!”

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Make no mistake, the Gilets Jaunes are in this for the long haul.

Today, April 13, was the twenty-second successive Saturday that they have taken to the streets in huge numbers to revolt against President Emmanuel Macron’s neoliberal regime.

Five months on, there is still the energy, determination and critical mass to bring about a major change in the course of modern French history.

Each new round of police violence, each new draconian piece of repression, each new sneering dismissal of the yellow “mob” by right-wing politicians, just seems to give the uprising a new burst of energy.

The Mediterranean city of Montpellier was not the main Yellow Vest event in the south of France for Act XXII – all eyes were on Toulouse, where a massive turn-out was met with police violence and teargas.

But, remarkably, some 5,000 people turned out in Montpellier to support the Gilets Jaunes cause and condemn the brutality with which they have been repressed.

This is where the real strength of the movement can be seen – in the scores and scores of protests held in cities and towns all over the country week after week, which are hardly even noticed on the national, let alone international, level.

The Gilets Jaunes hold protests in Montpellier every week, but this time they were marching alongside the French human rights league LDH (Ligue des droits de l’homme) and various local associations, trade unions and left-wing political groups, such as France Insoumise.

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As people gathered in the warm spring sunshine on La Place de la Comédie in the historic centre of the Montpellier, Yellow Vest Nathalie told me this coming-together was a good thing.

“We need this convergence,” she said. “There needs to be lots of us out there”.

Fellow protester Charlotte agreed, saying: “At the start the Gilets Jaunes didn’t want to work with other groups, but now they realise we have to come together”.

A few metres away, Jean-Luc told me the same thing: “It is very important that the struggles converge, because it’s only that way that we’ll win.”

The huge protest through the streets of Montpellier featured all the diversity and energy for which the Gilets Jaunes have become known.

French national flags waved proudly as clenched fists were raised to the sound of The Internationale, as broadcast by the CGT trade union’s lorry. Later they switched to The Clash.

A feisty young woman beat ferociously on a drum and people sang and danced to the now-familiar Yellow Vest songs about the reviled Macron.

“Work, consume and shut your mouth!”, came the ironic chant. “Don’t watch us, join us!” passers-by were urged.

When the protest arrived back at the Comédie after its second tour of the city centre, it was met with applause from a small group of Kurdish protesters who had gathered there.

The respect was returned by the Yellow Vest protests. “Tous ensemble!” they shouted. “All together!”

The police presence this time around was minimal, except when there was an important public building, or the rail station, to be protected.

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Montpellier is the seventh biggest city in France and has expanded rapidly in the last 20 years or so.

But while the sprawl of new business development around the city has brought in a degree of superficial wealth, the underlying issue of poverty has not gone away.

Valérie told me she had been waiting for the last seven years for something like the Gilets Jaunes movement to explode.

She added: “I am a single mother, I work, and I work just to survive”.

Fellow protester Lucile said it was “scandalous” that her elderly father had seen his pension reduced.

Even petrol prices were going up again, despite the respite earned by the first wave of Gilets Jaunes protests back in the autumn.

I asked protester Pascal whether he thought the Gilets Jaunes uprising could succeed in its aim of bringing about radical change to France.

He said: “We haven’t got any choice. If we fail, it’s slavery”.

He said time was on the side of the Yellow Vests and they knew it, which was why the protests kept on going and going.

This same point was made by a placard suggesting that the protests had only just begun – there were only another 160 Saturdays before the end of Macron’s presidential term in May 2022.

Stressed Pascal: “People realise that this is our last chance. This is a turning point in history”.

Jean-Luc said: “It’s a very big movement, the Yellow Vests, which has lasted five months and is going to keep going.

“Macron is never going to resign. The only way out is the dissolution of the national assembly.

“And we need more than that. We need the end of the fifth republic, we need different ways of representation – delegation, direct democracy.

“That’s going to be a revolution, if we move into a sixth republic”.

Valérie was also confident that success lay ahead. She said: “This is the first social movement which has lasted.

“I knew, even back in January, that it would go on at least until the European elections. There will always be another good excuse to keep going!”

Lucile said she could no longer put up with the contempt shown by Macron or the violence used against protesters.

“People go on a protest and are beaten up by the police and it doesn’t shock anyone. That’s what shocks me!”

She was less sure than the others I spoke to that the Gilets Jaunes movement would ultimately triumph against the raw power of global neoliberal capitalism.

But she added: “Days like today give us back some hope!”

Report by Paul Cudenec, a member of Shoal Collective.

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Only another 160 Saturdays of protest to go before the Gilets Jaunes see the back of Emmanuel Macron…

For more Yellow Vests reports see our Gilets Jaunes page

The Acorn – 48

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Number 48

In this issue:

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

1. Shutting down the capital

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Eco-protesters are planning to bring London to a standstill from Monday April 15.

Supporters of Extinction Rebellion (XR) aim to block traffic at four central locations “around the clock” to highlight the urgent issues of climate change and wildlife declines.

They will take to the streets from 11am at Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Waterloo Bridge and Parliament Square.

As part of an international day of protests, thousands of people will converge on the four busy locations in the UK capital, blocking traffic and creating a festival of action including people’s assemblies, performances, talks, workshops and food.

And the idea is that they be will back the next day, and the day after that, for up to two weeks. Unless, of course, the UK state suddenly sees the light and decides to dismantle the industrial capitalist system.

Say XR: “Under our current system, we are headed for disaster. Catastrophic climate breakdown will cause food collapse, destroy communities, kill millions, and render many more homeless.

“Mass extinction of wild species will lead to ecological collapse, and when they go, we go. Destruction of natural habitats will lead to genocide of indigenous peoples and the loss of our planet’s life support systems”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2. Final push against UK fracking!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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3. Gilets Jaunes: “We must exit capitalism”

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

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

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

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

Sunday, April 7th, 2019

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

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

We address the people as a whole.

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

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

We demand:

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

* Public services for all.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t watch us, join us.

– The Yellow Vests’ Assembly of Assemblies

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

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4. Judi Bari: an orgrad inspiration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5. For an anti-sectarian revolutionary left

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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6. “The Land Shall Sink”

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Eric Fleischmann explores the Lovecraftian nature of sea level rise.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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7. Acorninfo

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

endegelande19

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Earth First! UK has announced that its 2019 summer moot will be held in north-east England from August 14 to 20. This will be a week-long camp to build a culture for active non-hierarchical grassroots ecological resistance.

EFsummer19

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

degrowthday

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

crimethinc-climate

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

GJ basques

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

greenscare

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The dystopian nightmare of “predictive” policing is highlighted in an article by Peter Yeung on the Wired website. He writes: “The implications of being on the matrix can be chilling, but finding out why you are on it, let alone how to be removed, is extremely difficult. One family received a letter warning they would be evicted from their home if their son didn’t stop his involvement with gangs – but he had been dead for more than a year.”

predictivepolicing

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

Woke Anarchists

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

conflict minnesota

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

Henry Salt

Henry S. Salt

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

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Roadblock!

 

Ales roadblock2 - Copie

Report by Paul Cudenec of Shoal Collective.

There weren’t too many hi-vis jackets in evidence when we arrived at one of a series of roundabouts on the “rocade”, the ring road, at Alès in south-east France on Tuesday March 19.

Would there be enough protesters to pull off the roadblock that had been agreed at the previous night’s meeting of the Gilets Jaunes assembly at the trade union HQ in the former mining town?

I needn’t have worried. It was just that the 6.30am meet-up time had been a little too early for some, and a steady flow of people soon arrived. There were 30 or so at this point.

A dark blue gendarme van arrived, toured the roundabout but didn’t stop and disappeared again. They weren’t going to interfere at the set-up stage, it seemed.

Suddenly, Yellow Vests started streaming off the roundabout towards a side road. They were heading towards a large white van which had just pulled up.

The doors were flung open to reveal that it was packed full of road-blocking material – palettes and tyres, mainly huge lorry ones.

This was all quickly carried, or rolled, to the edges of the roundabout. Some Gilets Jaunes headed off down the ring road towards the next junction.

Before long, this stretch of dual carriageway was blocked from both ends. The operation was remarkably efficient. These people knew what they were doing!

As the morning rush-hour got underway, the blockade, part of a national day of action to coincide with a trade union strike, firmed up even further.

There were enough Gilets Jaunes, easily more than 100, to send a second group to block another roundabout a few miles down the road.

At the original site, the filtering operation came into effect. This was made easier by the use of trolleys borrowed from a nearby supermarket, weighed down with tyres and decorated with yellow cardboard fists.

Someone driving a flat-bed truck loaded with old tyres, apparently on the way to the dump, decided to make an impromptu donation to the Gilets Jaunes cause, creating an impressive heap of rubber on the roadside.

Ordinary car drivers were not allowed through the road block. If they stopped to ask, they were given directions for an alternative route.

However, doctors or nurses on duty were allowed to pass if they could prove who they were. Ambulances and firefighters had the automatic right to go through the barricade.

Every time one was seen, or heard, approaching, the call went out – “pompiers!” – and people rushed to pick up the palettes and roll aside the supermarket trolleys until they had passed, taking care not to let any uninvited traffic through in their wake.

Although car drivers were obviously inconvenienced by the ring road being blocked, and had to take the long way round, they were not the real target.

The aim was to block the economy, in the shape of the heavy goods vehicles which are the life blood of capitalist commerce across Europe.

When lorries – or certain lorries, anyway, as there were some complicated criteria that I never quite grasped – approached the blocked section of road, they were not turned away but invited to enter.

Some of them took a bit of convincing, with Gilets Jaunes standing in front of their vehicle or blocking their way with some of the ample supply of tyres.

But others were more than happy to pass through the blockade into the stretch of road sealed off at both ends by the protesters, where they would have to remain until the end of the action at 8pm.

I was a little surprised by this, until it was patiently explained to me that this amounted, effectively, to a day off for the lorry drivers.

They could phone their boss, report that they were blocked in by the Gilets Jaunes, and spend the day sleeping in their cab, sitting in the sun, drinking coffee, chatting with other drivers or protesters, or whatever. And be paid for it.

When we see a HGV branded with the name of some foul capitalist business, it is too easy to forget that the man or woman driving it is not part of that business, but a victim of that business and can be a willing accomplice in a struggle against the world which that business represents.

After six hours of the blockade, there was no space for any more lorries and disappointed drivers had to be turned away at the barricades.

I took a walk down the blocked stretch of dual carriageway, which was essentially now a lorry park with a narrow central lane for emergency vehicles.

More than fifty lorries had rolled into the Yellow Vest net – mostly French ones but some from Poland, Hungary and Romania. Quite a haul!

There had been a lot of talk at the Monday night assembly about the possible reaction of the police, who had previously used tear gas to clear a roundabout and against a town centre protest.

People were advised to bring protective masks, goggles and so on and were armed with information on solicitors and arrest support.

So it was slightly surprising that when the Police Nationale first turned up at the action, they exchanged smiles and handshakes with some of the Yellow Vests.

I asked somebody about this. “It’s because they’re local police, they’re from here,” he replied. “They’re friends, family members even. One of the Gilets Jaunes is a retired cop, in fact!”

Later the gendarmerie, part of the French armed forces, also turned up and were surrounded by a huddle of Gilets Jaunes.

Something termed a “negotiation” took place and the “forces of order” went on their way. The local paper, Midi Libre, reported later that the authorities in Alès said they did not, on this day of national action, have enough policing resources available to dislodge the blockade.

THE GILETS JAUNES

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The sunshine revolution

Dions832
3,000 Gilets Jaunes gathered in the countryside near Nîmes in southern France

Report by Paul Cudenec of Shoal Collective.

Saturday March 16 2019 will probably go down in history as the day that Macron and his government gave up waiting for the Gilets Jaunes movement to fade away.

Huge numbers of Yellow Vests packed the Champs Elysées in Paris for Act 18 of their revolt and were immediately attacked by police.

But they had come ready for a fight, for a revolution even, and took the offensive against the armed forces of the regime, despite all the tear gas, water cannon, rubber bullets, grenades and armoured vehicles.

Police were pelted with stones and repeatedly forced to retreat, in an eight-hour battle in the boulevard that has long symbolised chic Parisian affluence.

The rabble that had invaded this inner sanctuary of wealth wasted no time in trashing boutiques, eateries and banks, leaving them inscribed with their own philosophical reflections on the state of French society.

To the general consternation of the Parisian media and political elite, they even laid waste to that tiny minority’s spiritual home, the swanky gourmet restaurant Le Fouquet’s.

There was also much one-per-cent outrage over a video showing protesters in Black Bloc mode being cheered by others wearing the usual hi-vis singlets.

All of the lies peddled for months by the government were falling apart. No, the Gilets Jaunes movement had not faded away to insignificance. No, there was not a clear divide between the “extremist vandals” who broke windows and the rest of the movement. It was all just different aspects of the same uprising.

Interior minister Christophe Castaner declared afterwards that there had been no Gilets Jaunes in Paris that day, only 10,000 “casseurs” or vandals (there were at least ten times that many protesters, in fact).

This rhetoric allowed him to, again, completely brush aside the reasons behind the revolt and instead focus on a hard-line repressive strategy, firing the Paris police chief for not having ordered enough violence and announcing bans on protests and unspecified action against prominent Gilets Jaunes spokespeople.

A couple of days later the government announced that the army would be deployed to “protect public buildings” in France, a decision greeted with alarm and derision even by rivals on the conservative right.

Big shows of “strength” are tell-tale signs of an underlying sense of weakness, and the regime’s aura of authority had suffered as badly as the shop windows of the Champs Elysées.

* * *

Hundreds of miles away from Paris another huge crowd of Gilets Jaunes had gathered together, in completely different circumstances.

The occasion was a pre-release screening of the first film to be made about the movement, the documentary J’veux du soleil (I want some sunshine).

The local Gilets Jaunes at Dions, in the Gard department of southern France, appear in the documentary, made by Gilles Peret and François Ruffin, a well-known MP for the left-wing France Insoumise party.

Ruffin’s documentary Merci patron! (Thank you, boss!) was a massive box office hit in 2016 and fed into the mood of popular revolt of the Nuit Debout movement.

This was an outdoor event, as are so many such occasions in this Mediterranean corner of the country – in any case, no village hall or cinema could have accommodated the 3,000 people who turned up!

The giant inflatable screen had been installed in a manade, a ranch, on the rural plain north of Nîmes, surrounded by the vineyards which dominate this famous wine-producing region.

Before the film showing – which was after sunset, of course – there was a concert of the Spanish gypsy-style music that is very popular in these parts.

The culinary focus of the event was a “giant paella”, for which tickets had to be reserved in advance, but there were also plenty of food stalls and a “buvette”, an outdoor bar, where you could acquire a plastic beaker of local red wine for ninety-something pence.

The event as a whole was free, as might be expected for a political movement that is, above all, the voice of those with no money.

I took the time to look around me and to try to sum up the kind of people who were present. I was struck by the fact that it was impossible to do so.

Obviously it wasn’t “everyone” who was there (there was a serious overflow of the massive makeshift car park as it was! ) but this was certainly a cross-section of “everyone”.

These were the people you see everywhere here – at the market, sitting outside the cafés, or attending other general concerts or social events.

They were of mixed age and sex. There was nothing about the way they looked or dressed that marked them out as part of any particular “scene”.

That, perhaps, is the role played by the yellow vests worn by about half the people present – it represents the spirit of shared identity which unites these people and turns them from a collection of individuals into a whole.

This was a theme which cropped up again and again in the film, which is a kind of road movie in which Ruffin and Peret call in on Gilets Jaunes occupying roundabouts across France, from the Somme in the north to the Mediterranean coast.

People had been suffering in life but keeping it to themselves. They felt personally responsible, ashamed even, to struggle to pay the bills and feed themselves or their families.

Then the Gilets Jaunes appeared. They were accessible, friendly, and ready to talk. You didn’t have to pass an ideological examination to be allowed to take part in their revolt. You didn’t have to dress in a certain way or eat the right sort of food. Nobody even asked you how you voted at the last election.

Lonely and desperate people, spat out and cast aside by the capitalist consumer society which has taken hold of France, had suddenly rediscovered the community from which they had been separated.

In the Gilets Jaunes movement they did not just have political comrades, but friends. A new family, even. The hours spent on the roundabouts together had built solidarity, warmth, love.

J’veux du soleil is a powerful documentary because Ruffin allows himself to fade into the background and lets the Gilets Jaunes speak for themselves, with a frankness and intimacy that is rarely seen on camera.

The film intersperses these interviews with clips of Emmanuel Macron. The effect is stunning – the empty slickness of the neoliberal poster boy is the complete opposite of the raw honesty of the featured Gilets Jaunes.

The footage shows the arrogant “centrist” president, from his position of ultimate power and privilege, dismissing protesters as “people who are nothing”, as “lazy”, and as a “hateful mob”.

At the Dions screening, I was clearly not the only member of the audience who found Macron’s feudal contempt for the revolting peasants hard to stomach. His words were all but drowned out by a huge chorus of boos every time he appeared.

There were bursts of applause for particularly well-chosen words from Yellow Vests from elsewhere in France and great cheers of approval at the video of Gilets Jaunes famously smashing through the front gate of a government building in Paris with the aid of a construction vehicle they had borrowed from some nearby roadworks.

There was an outbreak of dancing at the end, too – the film draws its title and its sense of jaunty yet bittersweet optimism from a 1992 song by the group Au p’tit bonheur.

There were also, I was told later, plenty of tears – not just tears of sorrow for all the lives crushed by the dictatorship of money, but tears of joy for the renewal of hope in resistance.

THE GILETS JAUNES

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Ultimatum

Photo : Mathias Zwick / Hans Lucas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

voices1

Other articles:

Tear gas and rubber bullets on the streets of southern France

Yellow is the new bloc

Yellow fever: long live the revolutionary mob!

Gilets Jaunes: unfiltered anti-capitalism

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

The heartbeat of the yellow jacket revolt is rural

Christmas with the gilets jaunes

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

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

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