The Acorn – 50

acorn 2019b

Number 50

In this issue:

  1. Guerrilla war against “smart” fascism
  2. Smearing and cheering for the system
  3. Manipulating Greta
  4. Fighting fracking in Fermanagh
  5. Journalism for a world beyond capitalism
  6. Hyperlooping towards environmental disaster!
  7. Miguel Amorós: an orgrad inspiration
  8. Acorninfo

1. Guerrilla war against “smart” fascism

linky5

Guerrilla warfare has begun in Europe against the “smart” fascism being imposed on us all by the wealthy technocratic elite.

In the early hours of the morning on Tuesday June 11 2019, ten vehicles belonging to electricity distribution company Enedis were torched at Albi in southern France, causing damage put at 400,000 euros.

The firm is controversially imposing “Linky” smart meters on households across the country, sparking a massive wave of grassroots rebellion.

stoplinkyWhile this usually takes the form of local campaigning, legal action and physical blocking of access to meters, some opponents have taken the war with Enedis a step further.

Attacks against Enedis premises have already been carried out in Grenoble, Crest, Limoges, Paris and Besançon.

On December 6 2018, numerous Enedis vehicles, and two buildings, were damaged by fire in Foix, in the south-west region of Ariège.

Corporate media are reporting that the attacks are the work of a mysterious underground anarchist group called “ACAB”.

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Smart meters are just one aspect of a nightmare society being planned for the global population, involving the computerised control of every aspect of our lives.

This techno-totalitarianism, embracing AI, 5G, the “internet of things” and transhumanism, presents itself as “sustainable” and part of a “green” revolution, but in fact involves an intensification of the industrial nightmare.

Following an arson attack against Enedis in Montreuil, Paris, the anti-industrial rebels posted a statement online.

“A nuclearised society, radioactive waste in the air, water and earth. A society of control, smart spies in the homes, everything connected, measured, under surveillance.

“Desire for revolt, desire for destruction, desire for freedom”.

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2. Smearing and cheering for the system

matrix mr smiths

A rather disturbing article has been doing the rounds in French-speaking eco-activist circles.

On the face of it, there is little new for English speakers in the piece by Anton Mukhamedov published on a blog hosted by Le Monde newspaper.

It criticises the Deep Green Resistance (DGR) movement, citing longstanding concerns regarding its language on transgender issues and tendencies towards hierarchical organising.

There is a quote from one of the DGR France organisers about “laws of natural selection” which smacks of a social darwinism completely at odds with Peter Kropotkin’s theory of mutual aid.

So why do we say the article is disturbing? There are two reasons, one relating to its content and the other to its author.

A closer look at the blog reveals that nestling within a perfectly legitimate criticism of a particular organisation, DGR France, is a broader ideological attack aimed at all of us who challenge the industrial system.

Anton-Mukhamedov
Anton Mukhamedov

This is expressed most succinctly in one of author Mukhamedov’s replies in the comments section, dated March 26 2019.

Here he declares that the problem with DGR is that “it confuses the capitalist techno-industrial system with the tools of technology and forgets that we could find an emancipatory use for our tools so as to dismantle oppressive structures and redefine our relationship with the biosphere”.

At root, this is the same old message which has been touted by the industrialist left for decades. It’s not the technology that is the problem, they say, but the use it is put to, the political context in which it is situated.

But even worse still, Mukhamedov explicitly tries here to confuse social progress with industrial “progress”, in suggesting that technology could be “an emancipatory” tool for dismantling undefined oppressive structures.

smart aiHere we see the fake green message peddled by those who try to sell us (lucrative) techno-solutions to the climate crisis and by those who present “smart” technology, AI and transhumanism as offering a golden “emancipatory” future for the human species, while totally ignoring that the ongoing development of such technologies would spell certain death for the planetary organism of which we are part.

In the same comment, Mukhamedov goes on to identify as “reactionaries” those who deliberately sow “confusion” by “criticising mainstream environmentalism without even discussing what the dismantling of our civilization could imply”.

He also addresses this issue in the article itself, where he says it is “highly problematical” to welcome the ending of industrial civilization.

He complains that DGR “has for its primary aim the dismantling of existing institutions, without worrying about providing alternatives for people who depend on these”.

Mukhamedov’s argument here is the same as the one used by mainstream capitalists. “You can’t do away with our system because we have made people depend on it for their survival”.

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The reality of industrial civilization is that it is killing the whole of life on Earth. That is why so many of us are now saying that industrial civilization must be stopped.

We are anti-industrialist because we are partisans for life, for all life, for real life.

But the trick always used by the system, and adopted here by Mukhamedov, is to reverse the morality.

We are supposed to believe that it is industrial society which stands for life and health, thanks to the marvels of its pharmaceutical industry, and that it is its heartless opponents who threaten to bring death and misery to millions.

Mukhamedov spins a “slippery slope” trajectory which starts with deep green bogeymen attacking industrial infrastructure, continues with them dismantling towns and setting up rural autonomous communities organised by direct democracy (an “ultra-hierarchical” concept in his view) and ends with the death of “the majority of human beings”.

While being careful (in view of his target readership) to pay lip service to traditional medicine, he in fact leaps to the defence of its industrial counterpart citing (like any good industrialist) its inventions which have saved “innumerable” lives.

big-pharma

Refusing to acknowledge the benefits of “modern medicine” amounts to “reactionary eugenics”, he strangely argues.

While he has to admit that “many ‘deep’ green environmentalists are not reactionaries”, and that social ecologists also call for an exit from industrial civilization, Mukhamedov claims that “the heirs of ‘deep’ green politics have often forged deplorable links between the environmental movement and theories similar to those of the extreme right”.

At this point we will immediately refer readers to the article ‘Organic Radicalism: Bringing Down The Fascist Machine‘ that we published a year ago.

Here we describe and deconstruct, in detail, the “ecofascist” smear used to attack opponents of industrial capitalism.

Alexander Reid Ross
Alexander Reid Ross

We mention, in passing, Alexander Reid Ross, a one-time editor of Earth First! Journal, who identified parts of the EF! network, as well as anarchists and left-wingers generally, as being affected by what he terms ideological “fascist creep”.

Mukhamedov in fact relies on Reid Ross as the principal source for his analysis of the US deep green movement.

Reid Ross also featured in an article we published last year, entitled ‘Fake Left Pro-War Neoliberals Break Cover‘.

This explained that he had just written an article in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz smearing opponents of US/NATO warmongering in Syria as stooges of Assad and Putin.

He declared: “The ‘anti-imperialist’ left is now shilling for tyrants in Damascus and Moscow. And conspiracy theories are the toxic glue binding them to their fellow Assad and Putin apologists on the alt-right”.

Astonishingly for a self-proclaimed anti-fascist, Reid Ross complained about the UK Labour Party’s “tepid response” to the alleged gas attack in Douma (now exposed as a false flag) and its “rejection of any humanitarian grounds for military action”.

The Iraq War
Just another humanitarian intervention

He identified a “crossover between leftists and the far-right” in challenging the Western narrative on Syria.

As we wrote at the time, Ross was reading from exactly the same ideological script as neoliberal war apologists.

“He is trying to use the bludgeon of an alleged ideological association with the far right as a way of silencing voices on the left who challenge the US imperialist narrative”.

Funnily enough, of course, this same “far right” smear was Reid Ross’s weapon of choice in his attack on the deep green movement, one taken up enthusiastically by Mukhamedov in his French language version of the narrative.

Even more funnily enough, Mukhamedov seems to have exactly the same views as Reid Ross on Syria!

His 2018 article ‘You aren’t antiwar if you aren’t anti-Assad’s war‘ cites “fascism expert” Reid Ross and follows him in raising the spectre of a “red-brown alliance”.

Clearly frustrated by stubborn types who refuse to swallow Western propaganda on Syria, Mukhamedov denounces them as “reactionaries infiltrating left-wing spaces”.

anti war weather
Reactionaries infiltrating left-wing spaces?

He claims they are “attempting to subvert movements deeming themselves progressive in favour of a pseudo anti-imperialist and reactionary approach to geopolitics, which lacks any concern for civilians and promotes, under the guise of secular anti-imperialism, a ruthless and sectarian dictator who has executed thousands and continues to commit crimes against humanity”.

Note that this is the same morality-reversal trick again. People opposing war are presented as the baddies, lacking any “concern for civilians” and effectively being responsible for thousands of deaths and “crimes against humanity”.

This is just like the way people opposing the murder of the planetary organism are depicted as monsters who threaten to kill off “the majority of human beings”.

In both instances Mukhamedov attempts to discredit authentic anti-imperialist and deep green opponents of the industrial capitalist system by adopting a pseudo-radical critique intended to sway a left-wing readership.

He can’t condemn his opponents as “extremists”, “enemies of the West” or “anti-American” because this would do them more good than harm in most left-wing circles, so instead he calls them “reactionaries” and insinuates contamination with far-right ideas.

Idrees ahmad
Idrees Ahmad

It is worth noting that Mukhamedov’s article was published by Pulse Media, edited by Idrees Ahmad (notorious for his attacks on anyone challenging Western narratives on Syria), the controversial Robin Yassin-Kassab and Danny Postel, who in 2014 urged the US to ‘Use Force to Save Starving Syrians‘.

Interestingly, the Pulse piece is quoted twice, and at length, in an article by Daphne Lawless, who cloaks him in the white coat of neutral expert objectivity by introducing him as a “French political scientist”.

We wrote about Lawless in Acorn 42 and referred to the piece in question, ‘The Red-Brown ‘zombie plague’: how fascist ideas are becoming popular on the Left‘ on the New Zealand site Fightback.

daphne-lawless
Daphne Lawless

We noted how Lawless, a supposed left-winger, had leapt to the defence of the US involvement in Syria, insisting that talk of pro-US false flag attacks was “baseless slander” and “conspiracy theories”, tainted by association with the far right.

This was all part of “a growing convergence of Leftist and far–right rhetoric”, a “red-brown” menace, she argued, not forgetting to quote that esteemed “fascism expert” Alexander Reid Ross.

Mukhamedov was also honoured with a guest post on the blog run by “Bob from Brockley”, who was heavily implicated in the Philip Cross scandal which involves the systematic editing of Wikipedia to mute criticism of the US-led system.

Lawless, Reid Ross, Bob from Brockley and Mukhamedov clearly all very much come out of the same political mould.

Mukhamedov’s work has also been published in Lebanese English-language paper The Daily Star and in Yemeni publication Al-Jumhuriya.

The latter publication is a strange choice for a freelance journalist whose own personal website is called Revolutionary Democracy, because Al-Jumhuriya is known for its support for the Hadi regime.

Hadi and John Kerry
Hadi with John Kerry

Yep, that’s right, the regime, backed by Saudi Arabia, the US and the UK, which for the last four years has been unleashing hell on earth for the people of Yemen, bringing death, famine and destruction to millions of innocent civilians and creating what the UN has described as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

We would have liked to have provided readers with a bit more information about Anton Mukhamedov and his take on current affairs but unfortunately both his Facebook and Twitter accounts seem to have been terminated.

Here is a screenshot of what the latter used to look like.

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We have never met Mukhamedov and for all we know he may be a completely autonomous and genuine activist whose views simply don’t happen to coincide with our own.

But we do find it a bit strange that this “revolutionary” always seems to be on the side of the system, defending industrialism against deep green critics, cheerleading for US intervention in Syria, lending his services to a mouthpiece of the US-backed regime in Yemen.

Whether deliberately or not, his attacks on anti-industrialists and anti-imperialists amount to a defence of the military-industrial complex, a defence which dishonestly presents itself as a noble emancipatory crusade against “reactionaries”, “red-browns” and fascists.

thinkpolMukhamedov, like Reid Ross, effectively acts as a gatekeeper of the system, embedded with what is supposed to be the opposition.

They, and all the others like them, try to define the limits of our resistance, tell us all when we are going too far, whip us back into line when we begin to question the official narrative of infinite industrial growth, of humanitarian warfare and emancipatory technology.

Their venomous smears are aimed at all of us who dare to call for real change, who dare to believe that another world is possible, who dare to challenge the system to its core.

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3. Manipulating Greta

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A very useful expose of the “green” capitalist machine manipulating climate darling Greta Thunberg has now been translated into English.

Isabelle Attard, who describes herself as a green anarchist, writes: “Everything was carefully planned to transform the young Swede into an international heroine.

“Among the shareholders of the start-up, we find members of the two interconnected families: the Perssons, children of the billionaire Sven Olof Persson, who made their fortune in large part by selling cars (Bilbolaget Nord AB), and the Rentzhogs.

“The two families of investors, who met in the region of Jämtland, have no connections to environmentalism, they are specialists in finance”.

Greta ThunbergThe article describes a hidden agenda which can only be described as greenwashing, a deliberate lie “that enables capitalism to continue”.

Attard adds in a PS: “So that things are clear — the cause of this young teenager and all the young people following her, all over the world, is righteous and a great source of hope for environmental awareness.

“That being said, we shouldn’t be fooled by the role of certain adults in her entourage — spin doctors, mentors, specialists in greenwashing, green growth and capitalism. To wage an effective fight, we cannot allow ourselves to be fooled”.

We have been compiling a page of links to articles on this whole issue of fake-green capitalism within the climate justice movement, which we will continue to update.

The in-depth investigations by Cory Morningstar on the Wrong Kind of Green blog are particularly worth studying.

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4. Fighting fracking in Fermanagh

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by ‘Fracking is stoppable, another world is possible!

“The people of Fermanagh came together as never before to defeat this toxic industry in 2014. We can have confidence that together we can save our county once again.”

Determined words from local councillor and campaigner Donal O’Cofaigh in response to Tamboran’s renewed bid to frack Northern Ireland.

The company was last granted a licence in 2011, but its plans to drill a borehole at a quarry near Belcoo were met with fierce community opposition.

In late July 2014, Tamboran arrived on site in Belcoo with the intention of carrying out exploratory fracking in the Acheson and Glover quarry.

Their arrival sparked a determined local mobilisation and led to the establishment of a 24-hour camp at the quarry entrance. No drilling rig arrived.

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One of the highlights from the campaign included local children singing a song calling out those in power for ignoring the hearfelt concerns of their community.

In August 2014, the Environment Minister finally took heed of the community’s demands, asking Tamboran for an Environment Impact Assessment. The project was stopped. Until now, that is.

In a radio interview, Aedín Mc Loughlin of Good Energies Alliance Ireland, based in Leitrim, highlighted the cross-border aspect of the project, saying “We know that water knows no borders, no boundaries, and if they are going to frack in Fermanagh that will have an impact on our area.”

A public consultation is open until July 5. Keep an eye on the Belcoo Frack Free Facebook page for detailed guidelines on how to make a submission.

Grassroots community resistance has been the driving force behind the success of the anti-fracking campaign across Europe and, along with unfavourable geology, continues to hamper efforts to develop the industry at scale in England too.

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Ferdinand Tönnies

Understanding the difference between community and society – as highlighted by sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies – has been essential to defeating fracking, and provides valuable lessons for other movements.

As a long-time supporter of the UK campaign comments in a recent article: “The frackers might not have succeeded in establishing an industry, but they have certainly unintentionally built a committed, resilient, effective movement of people”.

And it is this people power, rooted in communities, that is sending – and will continue to send – the fracking industry packing wherever it seeks to establish itself. Fracking is stoppable, another world is possible!

Taken from the third issue of ‘Fracking is stoppable, another world is possible!

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5. Journalism for a world beyond capitalism

journalist

We are living in surreal times, when most journalists have dropped all pretence at reporting the truth.

They churn out blatant propaganda on behalf of our rulers and obediently avoid mentioning anything that might upset their paymasters.

The Gilets Jaunes revolt in France might as well never have happened, for English-speaking media. Exposure of NATO war crimes and false flags is consigned to the memory hole. The suffering of the Palestinian people is ignored. The persecution of Julian Assange is, at best, an amusing aside.

It is therefore crucial that independent journalists step forward to fill the space vacated by their corporate counterparts.

One of several encouraging initiatives is Shoal Collective, which provides “radical writing for a world beyond capitalism”.

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A glance at their website, shoalcollective.org, reveals an impressive range of subject matters. Recent articles include:

* An analysis of the way the hyperloop high speed travel project uses fake green credentials to win credibility (see below).

* A call by Australian Palestinian and Jewish activists for singer and songwriter Xavier Rudd to cancel his planned concert in Israel.

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* A report on how the Turkish state is continuing to try to wipe out Kurdish culture with a controversial dam which will see hundreds of majority-Kurdish villages submerged under water, displacing 78,000 people, as well as thousands of nomadic people.

* An exposé of the way the French state has been caught out using fake news in its unrelenting war against the Gilets Jaunes uprising.

* An interview with an anti-fascist fighter about defeating Daesh (Isis/Isil) in its Syrian capital.

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6. Hyperlooping towards environmental disaster!

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by Shoal Collective

Imagine the delight! In years to come we could all be zipping merrily across continents at almost the speed of sound through massive low-pressure tubes!

Even better, we’re talking eco-chic sustainable speed, with fossil fuel air and motor transport reduced and the super-duper shiny new “Hyperloop” tubes powered by a host of solar panels.

Following the stalling of plans for a Los Angeles to San Francisco route, US entrepreneur Elon Musk reported last year that he has now received some written authorisation to start work on a Hyperloop connection between New York and Washington, DC.

Pods travelling at 1,200 kph (750 mph) would take passengers from one city to the other in 29 minutes, he said.

hyperloop

The Hyperloop concept has been offered by one of Musk’s companies as open-source technology and various businesses have been showing an interest.

South Korea signed a deal to develop Hyperloop and is hoping the scheme will allow people to replace a three-hour drive from Seoul to Busan with a 20-minute trip.

Plans are also underway in France for a 40-minute Hyperloop connection between Paris and Toulouse, while the first operational route could be in the Emirates, with a Hyperloop tube planned to span the 150km between Dubai and Abu Dhabi in 12 minutes. The first stretch is due to be launched in 2020.

India, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Sweden and Indonesia are also said to be interested in building their own Hyperloops.

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Over the last few years, Musk and his cheerleaders have been making much of Hyperloop’s supposedly “green” credentials.

Josh Giegel, president of Los Angeles firm Hyperloop One told the Inverse website: “We’re advertising, and we really believe in, a fully kind of green solution here.”

The techno-enthusiast Digital Trends website gushed about the “fantasy of futuristic transportation” and declared: “The Hyperloop could revolutionize mass transit, shortening travel times on land and reducing environmental damage in the process.”

Norway’s Green Party also jumped aboard the “renewable” high-speed bandwagon when it called for a Scandinavian Hyperloop connection between Oslo and Copenhagen.

But potential passengers should prepare to mind the gap… between hype and reality.

Christopher Laumanns of the degrowth.info web portal in Germany warned that there were a number of questions that needed to be asked about Hyperloop, such as “do we really want to go that fast?”, “is this the kind of technology we want?”, “who will profit from this?” and “what is the real, full ecological impact of this project?”.

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He told Shoal: “The hyperloop is a mega-infrastructure-project. These projects have a rich tradition of being way more expensive than the ambitious investor says they are at the beginning.

“It will have a huge impact on the landscape, especially if the pods have to travel in a very straight line, just like highways and high-speed rail, which cut through landscapes, often with tunnels and bridges”.

Plans reveal that the giant Hyperloop tubes would either run underground, as in the New York to Washington project, or be raised above ground level on pylons – in either case cutting swathes through vulnerable landscapes and fragile habitats.

And what of the steel or reinforced concrete that would be needed to construct these continent-spanning tubes? Would this be sourced, manufactured and transported with zero environmental impact?

Not exactly. Steel depends on iron ore mines, mainly opencast, and the production process involves high levels of greenhouse gas emissions, wastewater contaminants, hazardous wastes and solid wastes.

cement industry

Concrete, meanwhile, is made largely from cement and that the cement industry is notoriously one of the primary producers of carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas.

On top of that, all the aggregates that make up concrete have to be quarried or dug out of the Earth somewhere, then transported, with further use of fossil fuel and other resources and increases in pollution.

The inclusion of solar panels in the Hyperloop marketing vision is also something of a green herring.

Enthusiasts for solar power often seem to conveniently forget that the panels themselves have a heavy environmental footprint, starting with the quartz mining, which threatens miners with the lung disease silicosis, and continuing with the caustic chemicals such as sodium hydroxide and hydrofluoric acid used in their manufacture.

Solar-panel-factory

The process uses not only precious water but also large amounts electricity and there is a problem with waste.

In 2011 residents of Haining in eastern China rioted for four days because the local solar panel factory was seriously polluting a nearby river, dumping toxic levels of fluoride into the water and killing large numbers of fish and some pigs.

It is unsurprising then, that Hyperloop’s claims to be eco-friendly have been greeted with scepticism by environmentalists.

Grayson Flory, editor of the Earth First! Journal in the USA, told Shoal: “The Hyperloop project is another example of dangerous greenwashing, pure and simple.

“It is a blow against a sustainable future for the planet disguised as a solution to industry-caused climate catastrophe. Environmental claims about the Hyperloop demonstrate the dominant culture’s obsession with technological progress and speed over all else.

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“To prioritize high-speed transport over actual necessities for survival – such as non-toxic air, pure water, and thriving, intact ecosystems – is to ignore the very problem proponents of the Hyperloop claim they are trying to solve.

“Increasing our reliance on and dedication to technology and industry is not a rational or holistic approach to problems caused by increased reliance on and dedication to technology and industry.

“High-speed travel is not sustainable, no matter what new technology we use to make it appear so.”

Laumann, in Germany, said the broader issue of high-speed transport was important from a degrowth perspective:

“Capitalist acceleration creates the illusion of giving you more time, while it actually leads to a greater number of activities in the same amount of time, thus also creating more growth.”

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José Ardillo, author of books such as Les Illusions renouvelables (“Renewable Illusions”), also agreed that the contemporary capitalist demand for high-speed transport, which Hyperloop seeks to meet, was the underlying problem.

He told Shoal: “The need for high-speed transport in modern industrial society comes within a wider historical context which was already underway at the time when the first railways were being built.

“You could say that the first need for capitalism was to efficiently link energy resources with the centres of industrial transformation, on the one hand, and on the other, of course, with distribution networks.

“The first war fought by industrial society at that stage was a war against distance. It had to nullify distance. Now contemporary industrial society is at war with time.

“Once towns and centres of production across the territory are linked together, you have to eliminate as far as possible the time needed to move between them.”

hyperloop ruskin
John Ruskin

The great English writer and art critic John Ruskin died in January 1900 and so never knew the industrial insanities of the twentieth century, let alone the twenty-first.

But when he wrote in the 1870s about the madness of the railways he could just as easily have been describing the hyperloopiness of certain contemporary high-speed projects.

“There was a valley between Buxton and Bakewell, once upon a time as divine as the vale of Tempe”, he recalled.

“You enterprised a railroad through the valley – you blasted its rocks away, heaped thousands of tons of shale into its lovely stream.

“The valley is gone and the Gods with it, and now, every fool in Buxton can be at Bakewell in half-an-hour, and every fool in Bakewell at Buxton; which you think a lucrative process of exchange – you Fools everywhere”.

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7. Miguel Amorós: an orgrad inspiration

Miguel amoros2

“No revolt against domination can really represent the general interest unless it turns itself into a rebellion against technology, a Luddite revolt”

Miguel Amorós (1949-) is an anti-industrial anarchist theorist, close to the situationist movement.

In the 1970s he was involved in setting up anarchist groups such as Bandera Negra (Black Flag) and Tierra Libre (Free Land). Jailed by the Spanish Franco regime, he then went into exile in France.

Between 1984 et 1992, Amorós was involved in producing the post-situationist review Encyclopédie des Nuisances and became known for combining full-on revolutionary anarchism with anti-industrialism.

In an article entitled ‘Where Are We Now?’, inspired by the essay of the same name by William Morris, he wrote: “The most basic task ahead of us is to bring as many people as possible together around the conviction that the system has got to be destroyed”. (1)

He added: “Technology is an instrument and a weapon because it benefits those who know best how to use it and how to be used by it. The bourgeoisie have used machines and the ‘scientific’ organisation of work against the proletariat. (2)

luddites2“No revolt against domination can really represent the general interest unless it turns itself into a rebellion against technology, a Luddite revolt”. (3)

Amorós mused on the disastrous own-goal scored by the 19th century anti-capitalist movement when it decided that industrial development offered the best route to liberation.

He wrote: “Contrary to what Marx and Engels claim, the workers’ movement condemned itself to political and social immaturity when it abandoned Utopian socialism and chose science and progress (bourgeois science and bourgeois progress) instead of community and individual flowering”. (4)

In the essay ‘Elementary Foundations of the Anti-Industrialist Critique’, he insisted that “factories, machines and bureaucracies are the real pillars of capitalist oppression”. (5)

He added: “Our critique of science, technology and the industrial system is a critique of progress. And in the same way it is a critique of the ideologies of science and progress, not least the workerist ideology, in both reformist and revolutionary guise, which is based on taking over, in the name of the proletariat, the bourgeois industrial system and its technology”. (6)

amoros PreliminairesIn the article ‘We Anti-Industrialists’ he wrote that in the previous phase of capitalist domination people had worked so that they could consume, whereas in the current phase we had to constantly consume so that work existed. The anti-development struggle was based on the negation of both work and consumption, in a bid to break this vicious cycle, he explained. (7)

Rather than abandon the traditional anarchist class struggle in order to embrace an anti-industrial perspective, Amorós has often stressed that they are one and the same fight.

“The anti-industrial critique does not deny the class struggle, it preserves and surpasses it and, moreover, class struggle cannot exist in today’s world other than in the form of anti-industrial struggle”, he wrote in his ‘Elementary Foundations of the Anti-Industrial Critique’. (8)

In this essay, he also made it clear that humankind will know no happiness and no future unless we can destroy the prison of industrial capitalism, writing: “An existence designed by technocrats according to industrial norms is, in effect, a life of slavery… (9) The struggle against capital is not simply a struggle for a free life, but a struggle for survival”. (10)

Video link: Perspectives anti-desarrollistes en el segle XXI (41 mins)

miguel amoros

1. Miguel Amorós, ‘Où en-sommes nous?’, Préliminaires: Une perspective anti-industrielle(Villsavary: Éditions de la Roue, 2015), p. 22.
2. Amorós, ‘Où en-sommes nous?’, Préliminaires, p. 12.
3. Amorós, ‘Où en-sommes nous?’, Préliminaires, p. 19.
4. Amorós, ‘Où en-sommes nous?’, Préliminaires, p. 20.
5. Amorós, ‘Fondements élémentaires de la critique anti-industrielle’, Préliminaires, p. 60.
6. Amorós, ‘Fondements élémentaires de la critique anti-industrielle’, Préliminaires, pp. 60-61.
7. Amorós, ‘Nous, les anti-industriels’, Préliminaires, pp. 55-56.
8. Amorós, ‘Fondements élémentaires de la critique anti-industrielle’, Préliminaires, p. 59.
9. Amorós, ‘Fondements élémentaires de la critique anti-industrielle’, Préliminaires, p. 60.
10. Amorós, ‘Fondements élémentaires de la critique anti-industrielle’, Préliminaires, p. 61.

From the orgrad website.

A translation from Spanish of a recent article by Amorós can be found on the Wrong Kind of Green blog.

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8. Acorninfo

Political prisoner Julian Assange (see Acorn 49) is still in Belmarsh high security prison, after the hearing for his extradition to the USA was delayed until February 2020. He risks being handed a 175-year jail sentence by American courts, for revealing Uncle Sam’s dirty secrets. As the Defend Assange twitter account put it: “175 years is not a life sentence. It’s a death sentence”. Meanwhile the police raid on the ABC offices in Australia confirms that it is not just one individual facing the wrath of the authoritarian neoliberal  system. All journalists who reveal truth and challenge power will be targeted as the system ramps up its attacks on dissident voices.

FreeAssangechalk

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The Gilets Jaunes’ revolt against the neoliberal Macron regime in France is, incredibly, still going strong after 31 successive weekends and huge levels of repression. While numbers on the protests have inevitably dropped slightly, the general feeling is that this is no passing moment of discontent and that a solid grassroots network has been built which will continue to present a serious challenge to the system. Our Gilets Jaunes page now has links to more than 30 English-language articles and videos.

GJjimicullen

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“It is easy. These spaces are designed so that a worker, who probably isn’t paid enough, can change over hundreds of these adverts in one morning!” Not content with exploiting and controlling every aspect of our lives, capitalism also visually occupies our urban environment with its advertising. If you feel like taking back what is yours, the free online Street Ad Takeover Manual from Brandalism tells you exactly how to go about it.

Brandalism-Guide

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“Behind financial institutions’ and NGOs’ plans to ‘combat’ the climate crisis, a project aims to generate profits through the indiscriminate sale of forests. This model is being used to green capitalism…” This is the timely warning from Aldo Santiago in Guatemala, who explains how so-called “Protected Areas” in the department of Petén are a Trojan Horse for capitalist exploitation.

guatemala

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“The Zapatistas of Chiapas have shown that small autonomous and federated communities can cultivate the land by and for all, provide medical care, produce natural energy, renewable and free (an option ignored by the ecological mafias). It is essential that gratuity enter, like life, into our manners and our mentalities, from which it has been banished, excluded, forbidden for millennia. No illusions, however: the struggle against the chains with which we have deliberately held ourselves back may be very long. Which is a good reason to give ourselves over to it immediately”. So writes Raoul Vaneigem, the Belgian situationist philosopher, in an article calling for ‘A radical politics of life‘.

raoul

* * *

A call has gone out for international action against the World Economic Forum in January 2020. The WEF paints itself as a vaguely “green” organisation, and hosted Greta Thunberg at its 2019 event, but in fact it represents the vile business interests which are destroying nature everywhere. Swiss activists are planning action and an international strike against the opening of the WEF’s next summit in Davos on January 21 – “Tuesday to End the Past, instead of Fridays for Future”.

wef2020

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“The ‘smart city’ project on the Toronto waterfront is the most highly evolved version to date of what Harvard professor Shoshana Zuboff calls ‘surveillance capitalism… It is a dystopian vision that has no place in a democratic society”. This is the warning from none other than Roger McNamee — prominent Silicon Valley tech investor. Find out more on the Common Dreams site.

smart city toronto

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Yet more shocking news of the extent to which the industrial capitalist cancer is eating away at the living flesh of our world: “There’s so much plastic in the environment that bees are making nests out of it” reveals this report from Argentina.

plastic pollution

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Acorn quote: “We must have the earth again. The communities of socialism must redistribute the land. The earth is no one’s private property. Let the earth have no masters; then we men are free”.

Gustav Landauer

tierra_y_libertad

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

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The Acorn – 36

acornmastheadnew1

Number 36


In this issue:

  1. Toxic clouds of capitalism
  2. Envisioning a post-Western world
  3. On the knife’s edge
  4. Anarchy in Hamburg
  5. Anarchy in London
  6. Blocking the arms fair
  7. Acorninfo

1. Toxic clouds of capitalism

On Sunday August 27 crowds of people enjoying a day on the beach at Birling Gap near Eastbourne, East Sussex, suddenly started coughing and spluttering, and rubbing their eyes, before fleeing the coast en masse.

They had fallen victim to a cloud of chemical gas, later identified as chlorine, which had drifted onto the southern English coast from the Channel. Some 150 people were treated in hospital in what was described by emergency services as “a major incident“.

The mainstream media reaction to this nightmarish episode was predictably understated and narrow, restricting itself to speculation as to where the poison gas may have specifically come from – Rotterdam, maybe, or northern France, or a ship in the Channel, or an old wreck.

With the honourable exception of the local Friends of the Earth, nobody was interested in the bigger picture.

Meanwhile, in the USA, Hurricane Harvey resulted in Houston’s petrochemical industry leaking thousands of tons of pollutants, with communities living near plants damaged by the storm exposed to soaring levels of toxic fumes and potential water contamination.

The plain truth about both instances of environmental poisoning  is, of course, that they are products of the industrial capitalist system.

This is the same system which, as revealed by a new report, has produced 8.3bn tonnes of plastic since the 1950s, polluting the world’s continents and oceans and threatening a “near permanent contamination of the natural environment”.

This is the same system which has destroyed 80 per cent of the Earth’s natural forests, which is wiping out our fellow species by dozens every single day, with as many as 30 to 50 per cent of all species heading towards extinction by 2050.

And if we are looking for a way of ensuring that incidents like the ones at Eastbourne and Houston never happen again, if we want to avoid all the pollution and extinction, the only meaningful approach is to work for the dismantling or destruction of the industrial system.

Why is this so hard for so many people to understand or to accept? Why, even among radical critics of capitalist society, is there so much reluctance to contemplate the loss of its toxic infrastructures?

People often talk about their attachment to the “little luxuries” in life that come hand in hand with industrialism. But is the ability to watch videos or play electronic games at any time and any place they fancy really more important than the ability to sit in the open air without being assaulted by drifting clouds of chemicals?

Is the personal convenience provided by a washing machine or a car really so important that future generations might not be able to walk outside without an oxygen mask?

Are all the temporary, shallow, egotistic pleasures of modern Western existence really worth more than the continuing organic well-being of our precious world?

Clearly not – and so why does this realisation not translate into a political perspective that embraces the end of the industrial capitalist era as an overwhelming priority for us all?

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2. Envisioning a post-Western world

This is an extract from a full-length article of the same name by Rob los Ricos and Paul Cudenec, which can be found here.

The West’s current incarnation as Industrial Capitalism poses a severe and unprecedented threat to the health and wellbeing of the living planet in general and the human species in particular.

The very basis of this system is the so-called need for permanent “economic growth”, involving a theoretically endless increase in the exploitation of people and nature that, logically, can only end in disaster.

This system justifies and defends itself by means of a mesh of oppressive constructs such as “property”, “law” and “nation”, which today largely go unchallenged, even by critics of capitalism’s worse excesses.

General acceptance of these constructs serves to camouflage and legitimize the violence used by the system to impose its control. It thereby helps to criminalize any resistance to this oppressive violence.

In the Mexican revolution of the early part of the 20th century, the Zapatistas had a slogan: “It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.”

In the West, the pervasive attitude is currently one of ignorance, fear, and slothful privilege, wherein the suffering caused by Western institutions in far-off lands is not of consequence to the people who are causing it through an unquenchable lust for cheap consumer goods.

Few of the beneficiaries are even aware it is happening, and most wouldn’t care if they knew. If told that wireless technology is causing genocide in central Africa, most Western consumers would likely reply “I like my cell phone.” Or their X-box, or their internet-connected refrigerator.

Western consumers have decided that it is – indeed! –  much better to live in ignorance and servitude to corporatized, military police states, and to hell with the consequences, rather than do anything to stop campaigns of genocide beyond their field of vision. The products of privilege produced in the process are precious to them, not human lives, or a living planet.

If the society produced in Europe through centuries of bloody violence and subsequently unleashed to ravage the entire planet can be thought of as “civilization,” an intelligent human being can only conclude that this civilization is something which must be eradicated so thoroughly as to never again be obtainable.

If this does not happen, and soon, our planet will become uninhabitable, and life as we know it no longer possible. Something new will evolve in the toxic, ruined wastelands the West creates everywhere. It will not likely be compatible with living things that have been predominant for the past few million years.

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3. On the Knife’s Edge

When our comrades over at Antidote Zine decided to repost the full text of Envisioning a Post-Western World (see above), they did so with the following introduction:

“In light of recent discussions among antifascists (including here within the Antidote Writers Collective) about an esoteric but significant kind of red-brown convergence—the potential for fascist counter-recruiting on the more nihilistic, misanthropic fringes of deep green, Euro-pagan, and Malthusian eco-anarchist groups—we recognize that some of the arguments put forward in the article that follows are right on the knife’s edge.

“We present them nonetheless for two reasons: firstly, of course, these ideas are out there whether we like it or not and warrant critical attention; and second, if spaces—both physical and ideological—are vulnerable to fascist counter-recruiting, this implies an overlap where antifascist counter-recruiting could (and should) be happening as well. In other words (indeed the words of Magpie Killjoy elsewhere in these pages), it behooves people in contested cultural terrain to, well, contest it.”

It was a little odd to have cited nihilism regarding an article which specifically declares that “our desire for the destruction of the current system is not nihilistic in motivation, but is born of a yearning for another way of living”.

Likewise, neither of the two authors of the original piece sees any misanthropy, Malthusianism or specifically “Euro-” paganism in their joint article.

The problem seems to be that anarchists today are forever looking over their shoulders to see if they are being watched by what is essentially an internal Thought Police, self-appointed custodians of a flattened-out and narrowed-in version of anarchism.

Seemingly born in the cloisters of Academia, this strange hybrid of ultra-liberalism and reformist post-Marxism is more interested in language than reality. It delights in over-complicating issues, in spreading the notion that cynical sophistication is superior to passionate simplicity. It very much dislikes any clear or direct physical or intellectual confrontation with the current order.

It is a fairly fluid entity, which varies in emphasis from context to context. But we can say that it generally does not approve of opposing US imperialism, of defending Palestinian rights, of protesting against capitalist summits, of Black Bloc tactics, of exposing the covert machinations of the military industrial complex, of talking about the “one per cent” or the “banksters”, of challenging the capitalist cult of technology, of using any kind of “populist” language that might actually inspire people to take to the streets in rebellion.

For instance, a reflection on the protests against the G20 in Hamburg in July, written by the “Gruppe Internationaler SozialistInnen” and reproduced in translation on the Libcom website, pours scorn on anti-capitalist enthusiasm around riots which broke out in the city’s Schanzenviertel during the mobilisation (see below).

It drones on boringly about “the intellectual failure of the so-called ‘autonomists’ to even begin to distinguish between the simple breaking of glass and the expropriation and socialisation of the means of production and consumption through the action of the proletarianised”.

Tut tut. Unpolitical youth interfering with the socialisation of the means of production

It also complains: “The riots may have been ignited by anger over the police, but they quickly took on the dynamic of a content-free event-riot, participated in by party-goers, unpolitical youth and, according to rumours which must be taken seriously, even Nazi hooligans.”

This last little snipe is interesting, as it is a common feature of these kinds of critiques that they usually claim that out-and-out anti-capitalism represents some kind of “slippery slope” towards a new kind of fascism, or the famous and yet elusive “red-brown convergence” referred to by Antidote.

In France, these techniques have been used by “journalist” Ornella Guyet on her (happily now defunct) site confusionnisme.info to lump together everyone from environmentalists of the décroissance movement to Nuit Debout, Noam Chomsky and Jeremy Corbyn as “confusionist”, anti-semitic or somehow otherwise dangerously close to a mystifyingly broad redefinition of “fascism”.

Exposing her activities, the left-wing website Le Grand Soir concludes that she is “an opportunist in thrall to the neocolonial and ultra-liberal system”. It adds: “Ornella Guyet claims to be ‘left-wing’, but her work proves the opposite.” It says she uses the cover of anti-fascism to attack genuine opponents of the  capitalist system. “In this sense she is the perfect example of the Fake Antifa, a guard dog of power”.

The UK has its own fake leftists in the Ornella Guyet mould, as discussed in Acorn 19. In that article we concluded that there seemed to be “a network of journalists and academics actively working to steer the ‘Left’ away from any criticism of the USA and the capitalist system it dominates”.

The influence of this Fake Left is such that genuine anarchists and anti-capitalists are now self-censoring to avoid falling victim to their ideological smear campaigns.

We are edging towards a situation where the only “acceptable” form of opposition to the system is irrelevantly academic and reformist.

A pedantic and humourless ideological puritanism, masquerading as radicalism, limits itself to calling for the system to be made fairer, more inclusive or more democratic and is suspicious of anyone who dares to challenge the fundamental assumptions of power.

Apparently forgotten is the urgent and inspiring anarchist demand for capitalism to be wiped from history to pave the way for a completely different way of living.

If drawing attention to this means we are regarded in some quarters as being on the “knife’s edge” of acceptability, then so be it.

As our friends at Antidote point out, “it behooves people in contested cultural terrain to, well, contest it”.

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4. Anarchy in Hamburg

As we predicted (in Acorns 29 and 35), the protests against the G20 in Hamburg in July were powerful and significant, both in terms of anti-capitalist resistance and in terms of the kind of repressive policing we are likely to be facing in the rebellious years ahead.

A very full and excellent English-language report was posted by our US comrades at Crimethinc and rather than producing our own inferior version, we thought we’d just copy and paste a few sections of their long article to give our readers a taste of what went on. The Crimethinc report and analysis can be seen in full here.

State violence and popular resistance

The 2017 G20 summit provoked the most intense clashes in Germany yet this century. This is an epic story of state violence and popular resistance on a scale rarely witnessed in the US and northern Europe.

The police attempted to use brute force to isolate and terrorize all who came to demonstrate against the G20, but in the process, they turned a large part of the population against them and the city spiraled out of control.

The police strategy underscores how central old-fashioned coercive violence is to the power of the G20 leaders; yet once again, we saw that a determined populace can outmaneuver even the best-trained and best-equipped police.

If 20,000 fully militarized officers using everything short of lethal force can’t maintain order at the most important security event of the year in Europe’s richest nation, perhaps it is possible to imagine revolution on the horizon after all.

The Courage of the Black Bloc

Imagine the scene: you are in the front lines of the Welcome to Hell black bloc. You and your friends decided to be here months in advance, to ensure that the front of the bloc would be populated by reliable people. You knew from the beginning that you would be walking into a nightmare. Still, your commitment to your comrades and to the movement outweighs fear for your personal safety; you have chosen to be here, come injury or prison, out of love of humanity and desire for a better future. Unlike the police, you have no protective gear, you are not receiving a salary, and you are not following orders.

St. Pauli Fischmarkt forms a sort of canyon here, where it drops beneath the level of the other streets—but for you, facing an impenetrable wall of police, it feels more like an arena. The railings above you are packed with viewers. They throng the pedestrian walkway that passes overhead and the hill of the park to the north; they are even gathered on the rooftops of the tall apartment buildings beyond the park. Standing there below them, you can’t help resenting those spectators passively watching from the safety of their terraces. Ahead, you can make out one—two—three—at least four water cannons and some armored cars behind them. You and your companions are like gladiators trembling as the gates go up and the lions come out.

Explosions are going off behind you. They punctuate a din of screaming, shouting, and the robotic voice of police announcements over the loudspeaker. From your vantage point, you can’t see what is going on back there, where the police are carrying out charge after charge against the back of the bloc as demonstrators struggle to hold them off with a volley of bottles and debris. You can only smell the tear gas in the air and hear the sound of detonations and shattering glass. A canister explodes in front of you, enveloping you in smoke. When the smoke clears for a moment, you see that the ranks of the bloc behind you are thinning—fearful of being trapped and brutalized, demonstrators have formed a human pyramid to escape by climbing up the wall to the south.

At this moment, the riot police ahead of you charge, forming a wall all the way around the bloc stretching from the front to the northern side. There are perhaps fifty of you left in the front now, still holding up your banners as a fragile rampart against the full might of the state.

The water cannons zoom up, sirens blaring, and halt right in front of your line. There is a scene in The Fellowship of the Ring in which the orcs fall back as the mighty Balrog steps forth to attack the protagonists. In that same manner, the lines of white-helmeted riot police inch backwards as the water cannons train their barrels directly at you. Tear gas is still filling the air. The comrades behind you have fled. Deafening pandemonium. You are surrounded on three sides now, outnumbered ten to one by storm troopers clad head to toe in full body armor.

It could hardly be more terrifying if the earth cracked open and flames leapt out of the chasm. Welcome to hell, indeed.

The Wildfire Catches – and Spreads

At one point, the water cannons on Holstenstrasse were forced to retreat while the crowd chanted “Whose streets? Our streets!” Barricades appeared across the street; for a while, the police withdrew from the area.

Shortly before midnight, people gathered at Grüner Jäger once more, where barricades had been erected earlier. They threw bottles at the water cannons as they drove by. The same scene was playing out up and down the street for blocks.

Long lines of police vans kept whizzing past us on the street. Every time they passed, people would pelt them with bottles. Incredibly, the vans didn’t even stop. “This means they’ve totally lost control,” my friend from Hamburg explained. “Normally, they would never put up with that.”

A little after midnight, the police succeeded in dispersing the main body of the demonstration, but that only spread people throughout the area, where they continued fighting in smaller groups.

At about the same time, just around the corner, special forces positioned themselves in front of Rote Flora on Schulterblatt street. Clashes soon broke out here as well, and once more, the police were repeatedly forced to retreat. People erected burning barricades to keep them at bay.

All around the city, banks, luxury shops, and cars were attacked throughout the night. This occurred as far north as Osterstrasse, where several shop windows were broken. Similar damage occurred in Altona—to Sparkasse, for example.

At about 1:30 am, water cannons and a huge number of riot cops sought to disperse the crowd that had gathered at Sternbrücke. Yet clashes continued throughout the night on the smaller streets of central St. Pauli. Supposedly, 76 cops were injured in the course of the evening, although it later turned out that police had spread flagrant lies about the number of injuries they sustained. They refused to give out the numbers of injured and arrested protesters. Rescue teams were deployed 89 times, mostly to treat head injuries, broken bones, and abrasions.

Friday, July 7: Battleground Hamburg

We woke up to the sound of sirens. From the other side of the port, thick smoke was rising from the inner city. My comrade and I exchanged glances wordlessly.

Early in the morning, a black bloc made its way through Altona building barricades, smashing the windows of shops and banks, and burning several cars. They reached Ikea and attacked it with fire. The police were nowhere to be seen; they still had not regained control over the city since the previous night. Hamburg called for police reinforcements from elsewhere around Germany to join the 19,000 cops who were already present.

Elsewhere in Hamburg, police surrounded and trapped about a hundred people by the Rondenbarg trailer park, then charged and attacked them. Some of them tried to flee over a fence 4 meters high. Shouting “Antifa swine, this is your breakfast!” the police knocked down the fence and injured 14 people, 11 of them with broken bones and other serious injuries. Some of them were still in the hospital a week later. Police announced to the media that the group had attacked them first, but videos subsequently revealed this to be an outright lie.

A decree prohibiting protests in most of Hamburg had been in effect since 6 am. Yet soon after dawn, blockades had appeared throughout the city, especially around the port, the red zone where the summit was, and the roads that G20 delegates were using. The blockaders had gathered in the metro stations at Landungsbrücken, Berliner Tor, Altona, and Hammerbrook. From there, they moved through the city in different directions, carrying out a variety of decentralized actions. Some came close enough to the location of the summit to stop delegates in their vehicles.

At 8:20 am, the harbor was blockaded at Worthdamm and Veddeler Damm. This lasted until 11 am. Police attacked blockades throughout the city, but people quickly set up new ones. In the city center, around 10 am, police pushed blockaders towards Mönckebergstrasse. Melania Trump was delayed inside her hotel on account of confrontations outside it, and missed her scheduled activities.

At 10:30 am, all the blockaders had reached their positions, delaying the summit, shutting down the harbor, and disrupting the infrastructure of capitalism. Around 11, a convoy of G20 delegates was stopped on Gorch-Fock-Wall due to blockades. At the same time, thousands of students were going out on strike.

The Defense of Schanze, Police-Free Zone

By 9 pm, burning barricades surrounded the Schanze district. The police had been forced to withdraw. At 9:30, some stores were looted, including Rewe and Budni. Goods were taken from the stores and redistributed freely. Fierce clashes were taking place along Lerchenstrasse as great bonfires burned nearby. By 10:45 pm, people were affectionately describing St. Pauli as “out of control.”

In the clashes at the edge of the liberated zone, someone was using one of those enormous umbrellas that cover outdoor tables at cafés as a shield to try to protect himself from the water cannon. The force of the blast kept pushing him back so he skidded along the asphalt. Then somebody else got another umbrella from the café and wedged it behind the first one. In that position, the water cannon couldn’t move them. It was just symbolic, but somehow it felt like a moral victory.

Further into Schanze, at the burning barricade, people were looting an electronics store. Someone got his hands on a massive flatscreen monitor and carried it towards the fire. Everyone else was shouting for him not to do it, that it was expensive, but he joyously heaved it into the flames. Then everyone cheered, feeling somehow lighter. Destroying commodities can be a kind of therapy that relieves us of covetousness.

For me, these scenes exemplify the inventiveness and festive atmosphere that prevail in moments like the ones we experienced in Schanze when it was free of police.

The critical mass that had gathered at 7 pm rode into Schanze around 11 pm, at the high point of the evening. Despite all the fearsome rhetoric portraying Schanze as a scene out of Breughel during the time the police were excluded from it, those who were there experienced an atmosphere of revelry and camaraderie. Many businesses were open, packed with people buying falafel or drinks. As people lined the streets, cheering at the arrival of the bicyclists, it could have been a family-friendly festival. The vast majority of participants were not anarchists or foreigners from Southern Europe, but ordinary people from Hamburg who had turned against the police over the preceding week. Outside of Schanze, even in areas where there were no anarchists, locals pulled their own trashcans into the street, forcing the police to spread themselves ever thinner over more and more territory.

All this time, the police had been fighting on the terrain of media as well as on the streets. Earlier, they used their Twitter account to beg people not to support the black bloc; in the evening, they demanded that journalists stop filming their operations and retreat from the Schanze district. Some officers even forced journalists to leave at gunpoint. Obviously, they did not want media documenting their loss of control, nor their violent attempts to reestablish it.

Outright resistance is already popular

Rather than imagining a faceless “general public” that disapproves of violence (except when the police enact it) and believes whatever the pundits say, let’s remember that society is comprised of countless different elements, many of whom have opinions that are never repeated on television by talking heads.

Most of the fearmongering about the resistance to the G20 is an intentional media campaign with classic talking points. It isn’t intended to reflect reality as it is, but rather to make us fearful of each other, to make it hard to imagine that there are others who want what we want. On Saturday, looking around the crowd in downtown Hamburg, it was clear that outright resistance is already popular.

Further reports from Hamburg can be found here and here.

A report on ongoing repression, including the German state’s closing-down of Linksunten Indymedia, plus info on all-important prisoner support, can be found here.

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5. Anarchy in London

One of the annual highlights of the anarchist calendar takes place in London on Saturday October 28 in the shape of the Anarchist Bookfair.

The 2017 event will see a return appearance for Winter Oak after a brief absence. We will have a stall somewhere at the venue and two speakers are lined up.

Ed Lord will be talking on Modern Madness: Mental Health, Modernity and Environmental Destruction. The anarchist author, researcher and mental health nurse discusses his recent book Modern Madness: A Wild Schizoanalysis of Mental Distress in the Spaces of Modernity published by Winter Oak. The book presents a radical critique of the modern world and the pandemic levels of mental illness we find there. Drawing on experience of mental health services and environmental activism, Ed asks the question “What if mental distress is considered as much a matter of geography as it is of personal pathology?” Followed by a discussion.

And Paul Cudenec will be talking about and reading from The Green One, which we published this summer. This book presents, in mythopoetic style, a gender-transcending archetype of natural vitality and rightness which has been present throughout the history of human culture, constantly taking on new forms to reflect the needs of each era. The Green One is Mother Earth, the Green Man, Osiris, Khidr, Robin Hood, Joan of Arc, the Luddites and authentic anarchism… Followed by discussion.

Times of the meetings have not been finalised yet, but as ever there are plenty of interesting sessions being lined up, such as:

  • Feminism and Self-Defence: Experiences of the Kurdish women’s struggles with Dilar Dirik.
  • A real revolution is a mass of contradictions: Reports from Rojava 2017 with Peter Loo and Sarah Patton of Plan C.
  • The Russian Revolution from Below – discussion opened by Simon Pirani, author of The Russian Revolution in Retreat.
  • My Buddha is Punk – a film screening and Q&A with the director Andreas Hartmann.
  • Dismantling the Prison Industrial Complex with Empty Cages Collective.
  • Does Chomsky matter? Milan Rai and Chris Knight debate Noam Chomsky’s relevance to anarchist theory and practice today.
  • Occupy, Organise … an introduction – with the Advisory Service for Squatters.
  • What it means to be libertarian, with Iain McKay, author of “An Anarchist FAQ”.
  • Zapatistas: Critical Thinking Against Capitalism, with the UK Zapatista Solidarity Network.
  • Carne Ross, Accidental Anarchist – film, followed by discussion with Carne Ross, Class War activist Lisa Mckenzie and anarchist/anthropologist David Graeber.
  • Bakunin and the International Workers’ Association, organised by Merlin Press.
  • Brian Morris on Deep Ecology and Anarchism – one of two book launches for Freedom Press.
  • Three different meetings on spy cops, from Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS), Undercover Research Group and, providing a historical perspective, from John Quail, author of Police Spies Then and Now.
  • How to fight your landlord by Brighton Solfed.
  • Intro to Earth First! With Earth First! UK, whose week-long annual gathering is the only anarchist camp in the UK, run according to anarchist organisational methods.
  • Land Rights. 69% of land in the UK is owned by 0.6% of the population, stolen many generations ago by deception and force. There are calls for a Day of Action in the UK next year.
  • Taking it to the streets – the politics of Class Solidarity with Liza McKenzie and Martin Lux.
  • Welcome to the anarchist future with the Anarchist Federation. “We are lucky to have some visitors from a future anarchist society, who will welcome you and explain how their world works”.

The event is being held on Saturday October 28 from 10am to 7pm at Park View School
West Green Road, London, N15 3QR. Seven Sisters tube station.

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6. Blocking the arms fair

Monday’s blockade

A week of action is underway in a bid to block the setting-up of one of the world’s biggest arms fairs in London.

The DSEI event has been dealing in death in the UK capital every two years since 1999 and campaigners are keen to stop it reaching its 20th birthday.

The  blockade got off to a good start on Monday September 4 with a day themed around “Stop Arming Israel”. Palestinian dancing and football matches blocked the road used by lorries bringing in equipment.

There were eight arrests as cops tried to clear a path for the warmongering profiteers, but the blockade forced the deathmongering DSEI organisers to try and sneak in their weapons through the back entrance.

Blocking the DSEI set-up on Monday September 4

On Tuesday morning, September 5, the “No Faith in War” actions saw a two-hour lock-on and reports of four arrests, including at least one Quaker.

In the run-up to DSEI, a broadside of in-depth articles was published online, exposing the arms fair, the industry’s revolving-doors relationship with government and the appalling human rights record of regimes that will be going shopping in the London Docklands, such as Saudi ArabiaIsraelTurkey and Indonesia. The investigative articles also look at DSEI’s role as a supermarket for state surveillance and border wars and at connections to animal rights abuses.

Said Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade: “DSEI will bring many of the world’s most appalling regimes together with the biggest arms companies.

“Right now UK fighter jets and bombs are playing a central role in the destruction of Yemen; what will be the next atrocity they are used in? War, repression and injustice are fuelled by events like DSEI. It’s time to shut it down for good.”

The blocking of the set-up culminates in a big day of action on Saturday September 9.

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7. Acorninfo

Environmental activists have been battling to protect the last primeval forest in Europe from commercial logging. They have chained themselves to trees and blocked felling machines in Poland’s Bialowieza Forest. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site where the habitat of the European bison, lynx and rare birds is at threat from the government-approved destruction. Follow Camp for the Forest on Twitter via @DlaPuszczy

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A nasty road scheme has returned to threaten massive destruction in the last remaining block of ancient woodland on the coastal plain of Southern England. Plans for the A27 are targeting Binsted Woods, Arundel, home to a successful anti-road camp in 2003. Said West Sussex campaign group Protect Our Woodlands: “We fail to understand how anyone could support the wanton destruction that would occur in Binsted woods, or any of the Arundel A27 options Highways England (HE) has put forward. Clearly their only purpose is to create even more road space for through traffic to fill again.”

* * *

Strikes and protests will be held all across France on Tuesday September 12 against the latest labour “reforms” being imposed on the country by neoliberal President Macron, a so-called “centrist” already deeply unpopular with the public after being elected in May. Meanwhile, the day of mobilisation against the French police state featured in Acorn 35 has been moved to Saturday October 7.

* * *

The latest volume of Return Fire magazine is now available online and features a look at Ed Lord’s book Modern Madness (see above), an article on the impact of robotics, reports of direct action against industrial capitalist infrastructure and much more.

* * *

A new English-language blog has been launched from the ZAD at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Zad for ever is subtitled  “Dispatches from the Liberated Territory Against an Airport & its World”, which nicely sets the context. It states: “The zad’s greatest strength is its radical diversity. This blog represents just some of the multitude of visions of the zone and its forms of life.”

* * *

A monument to the great German-Jewish anarchist Gustav Landauer has been unveiled in the Waldfriedhof, Munich. After he was murdered by proto-fascist soldiers in 1919, even Landauer’s grave was destroyed by the Nazis when they came to power in 1933.

* * *

More great news from the front line of Progress – an American firm has started implanting its employees with microchips which allow them to open doors, use computers or buy snacks. Todd Westby, CEO of Three Square Market, a technology firm in Wisconsin, said: “It’s the next thing that’s inevitably going to happen, and we want to be a part of it. Eventually, this technology will become standardised allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities.” We can’t wait.

* * *

A protest march in support of the UK’s “death sentence” prisoners is to be held in Manchester on Saturday September 16. As we reported in Acorn 32, some 4,000 people are serving IPP (Imprisonment for Public Protection)  sentences in British prisons even though these were legally abolished five years ago. These victims of blatant injustice still languish in jails with no release dates and soaring suicide rates. The protest will start at 12:30 sharp at 12 Minshull St, Manchester M1 3FR (Probation Office).

* * *

Acorn quote: “The modern West cannot tolerate that people should prefer to work less and be content to live on little; as it is only quantity that counts, and as everything that escapes the senses is held to be non-existent, it is taken for granted that anyone who is not in a state of agitation and who does not produce much in a material way must be ‘lazy’”.

René Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World

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

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The Acorn – 23

acornmastheadnew

Number 23


In this issue:

  1. March 39 and counting… Nuit Debout and the new French uprising
  2. The whole system is rotten to the core
  3. Anti-militarists’ London trial to begin
  4. The obliteration of European civilization via the subversion of the early Christian church by Roman emperors
  5. Radical truth behind the fiction
  6. Money, sex and power: on a sham biography of Guy Debord
  7. Building an anarchist future – the Bristol call-out
  8. Acorninfo

1. March 39 and counting… Nuit Debout and the new French uprising

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Protesters amidst the teargas in Nantes on April 5 – otherwise known as March 36

The spirit of resistance has captured the imagination of a new generation in France, as youth-led opposition to neoliberal labour “reforms” has spiralled into full-on rejection of the whole capitalist system on the street and squares.

The situation took on a new dimension after the general strike and day of action on Thursday March 31. There was a call for people not to go home afterwards but to stay on the streets, beginning a wave of overnight “Nuit Debout” occupations that has spread from Paris across France and into the Iberian peninsular, Belgium and Germany.

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“Let nobody enter here who is not in revolt”

The March 31 “moment” has also been symbolically extended by the renaming of the following days of the mobilisation as March 32, March 33 and so on.

On Tuesday March 36 (April 5 in the old pre-revolutionary calendar) there was another massive turn-out on the streets all over France, with increased police violence and defiant resistance.

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Paris, March 36
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Paris, March 36

In Paris police fired tear gas and charged the crowds of youngsters who countered with stones, glass bottles and eggs, chanting “police everywhere, justice nowhere!” and “everybody hates the police!”

Police arrested a staggering 130 schoolchildren and students on the day, leading to an evening protest outside a police station involving hundreds of people and more clashes.

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Paris, the night of March 36

It was a similar story in the Mediterranean city of Marseilles. A report on the Mars-info site said that if the initial demonstrations against the Loi Travail (labour law) had felt like the first breath of Spring, the events of March 36/April 5 showed that it had well and truly arrived.

Police charges were resisted, a motorway blocked, traffic thrown into chaos, the offices of the ruling Socialist Party redecorated. And the promise of so much more to come…

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Marseilles, March 36
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Socialist Party offices in Marseilles, March 36

In Brittany, the main railway line was blocked in Rennes city centre, while banks, chain stores and the Socialist Party offices were targeted in Nantes.

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Blocking the railway at Rennes, March 36
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Nantes, March 36

Another hotspot was in Toulouse, where a wildcat protest and invasion of the city’s railway station was followed by an overnight Nuit Debout occupation of between 500 and 1,000 people.

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Toulouse, March 36
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Toulouse, March 36

When an authentic wave of revolt surges up from the collective heart of a population, there is little that can stand in its way.

Like the waters of a mighty flood, it either sweeps away everything in its path or finds a different course that takes it past all obstacles.

This is what we are seeing in France at the moment, where a rejection of the capitalist system has emerged from deep within society, most notably amongst the newest generation.

As we have previously reported in The Acorn, this phenomenon has been growing for some time now and has taken many forms.

The French state, frightened of a serious threat to its power, probably imagined it had found the solution in the wake of the November 13 terror attacks in Paris.

The draconian “state of emergency” has been combined with increased police brutality and the usual “anti-terrorist” media paranoia to try to create a climate in which revolt can have no place.

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Police invade a lecture hall in Paris

It worked to some extent with the COP21 protests in Paris, where the anticipated atmosphere of rebellion was significantly dampened.

But when the state started making noises about evicting the ZAD protest camp to make way for a new Nantes airport, the huge response of solidarity and defiance showed that the underlying rebel spirit remained intact.

And with the planned El Khomri labour laws, the “socialist” French government  certainly overestimated its own power over the people.

While obedient trade unions failed to make much of a fuss about this serious attack on workers’ rights, others were outraged and the very youthful grassroots campaign emerged out of nowhere to oppose it.

The state has tried to crush it by the use of ugly police violence and general levels of repression which have been made possible by the “state of emergency”.

But even this has not worked. Indeed, the flood waters of revolt have merely swept up the tools of the state’s repression and used them as battering rams against its legitimacy.

As one statement from protesters explained: “What is being born here has little to do with the labour law. This law is just the tipping point. The one attack too many. Too arrogant, too blatant, too humiliating. The surveillance laws, the Macron law, the state of emergency, the stripping of nationality measures, the anti-terrorist laws, the penal reform project and the labour law all add up to a system. It’s one big project to bring the population to heel.

“Everyone knows that what makes a government retreat is not the number of people on the streets,  but their determination. The only thing that will make a government retreat is the spectre of an uprising, the possibility of the loss of total control”.

36marsMar1
“Fuck the state!”

Uncontrollability has proved a key element of the current revolt, with stewards from trade unions like the CGT being very obviously used by the authorities to try to hold back the energy of the youthful revolutionaries during protests.

One eye-witness to the March 31 protests in Marseilles described how the CGT stewards stood between the young protesters and the police with their backs to the cops, “showing clearly whose side they were on”.

As the protesters chanted “All Marseilles hates the police!”, the stewards were mocked and insulted, being called “collaborators” by the young crowd whose hatred for the system also embraces the false rebels of the comfortably conformist Left.

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One recent article sees the strength of the wave of revolt as lying in the fact that it is not a “movement” that lends itself to being easily manipulated and recuperated by the status quo.

The behaviour of the union stewards and cops is a tell-tale sign that they are desperately trying to gain some kind of control over a phenomenon which is completely beyond their grasp.

The response of the French state to recent rising levels of dissent has been predictable. It has emerged that at the end of last year it placed a 5 million euro order for hundreds of thousands of rubber bullets and seems determined to try and crush opposition by force.

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But resistance is spreading. There is an international call-out for a European Nuit Debout on Saturday April 9  – March 40. A new generation is at war with the system. The tyrants are running scared. Vive la révolution!

Video links

Protesters versus cops in Paris, March 31

Police violence in Paris, March 36/April 5

Man filming police violence is teargassed in face

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2. The whole system is rotten to the core

David-Cameron

The aftermath of the Panama Papers revelations has been an amusing spectacle, as professional hypocrites from Reykjavik to Westminster wriggle and twist their way out of accusations of tax-dodging.

The #ResignCameron protest called for Downing Street at 12 noon on Saturday April 9 has got to be worth supporting, especially if it feeds in to the European-wide day of revolt.

But the details of the controversy are all a bit of a sideshow for anyone who has long realised that the whole system we live under, and the elite that controls it, are hopelessly and fundamentally corrupt.

The coming and going of individual politicians and political parties changes nothing. And there is no point in trying to reform the system by removing the parts which are corrupt, because the whole thing is rotten to the core. It is, in itself, nothing other than corruption!

prison-cameron

To get rid of the corruption we have to get rid of the system. Not just the Tories and the offshore bankers, but the whole of the infrastructure behind them. We have to get rid of the “laws” they have invented to protect their corruption, the courts and judges that rubber-stamp their criminality with legitimacy. We have to get rid of the police forces, the armies and the prisons which impose their corrupt system on us with their “lawful” violence.

We have to get rid of the borders, the states, the flags, the property deeds, the capitalist-friendly ideologies  – all the fakery and illusion they have invented in order to crush human potential and freedom.

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This is not always an easy thing to say in a society where the slightest, most reformist, most Corbynesque challenge to the status quo is greeted with squawkings of outrage by the ruling clique.

Real change is so unthinkable to this dominant elite that it can’t even be mentioned at all without an accompanying deluge of derision and bile.

Anyone who dares imagine such a world, free from the sordid corruption of power, must either be a naive, uninformed, unworldly, head-in-the-clouds daydreamer or a dangerous, violent and fanatic extremist-terrorist. Or both!

“Things are the way they are and they can’t be changed,” they tell us. “No other world than our world can ever be possible, so just get used to it, work within it, construct your alternatives within the framework we have provided for you”.

This approach can lead nowhere except into an ever-worsening nightmare, as industrial capitalism reduces humanity to slavery and the living planet to a steaming heap of sterile and toxic chemical waste.

pollution bangladesh

Everything has to go! There can be no illusions about this. We have to wipe out the whole stinking mess of a system in its entirety, with no qualms and no hesitations.

Only then will the soil be ready for a  new society to emerge in which empowerment begins within each individual and works its way up through the myriad of social relationships that make up a community, growing an organic network of mutual aid and co-operation through which humankind can again become a vital and harmonious part of the living Earth and not a cancer in its flesh.

Instead of the corruption and ugly mess of industrial capitalism we will enjoy the natural harmony of anarchy.

greenanarchy2

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3. Anti-militarists’ London trial to begin

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Blocking the arms fair in September

Eight activists accused of disrupting one of the world’s largest arms fairs are due to go on trial in London from Monday April 11.

And their defence will include evidence from high-profile expert witnesses Andrew Feinstein, Sayed Ahmed and Oliver Sprague.

The campaigners are accused of having disrupted the set-up of the DSEI arms fair at the ExCel Centre in London last September by blocking the access roads to the site with their bodies, and by locking themselves to the gates.

Defendants, including Angela Ditchfield, Tom Franklin and Isa Al-Aali, were arrested on September 9 and 10 2015, accused of obstructing the entry of tanks and lorries by blocking the roads with their bodies.

Multiple defendants are accused of having blockaded the road during the Stop The Arms Fair main day of action on September 12; of which three are accused of blocking the East gate of the ExCel centre by locking themselves to the gate with arm tubes and two are accused of obstructing the West gate by D-locking their necks to the gate.

dseipic7

The DSEI (Defence & Security Equipment International) arms fair exists so that arms buyers and sellers can come together, network and make deals, and it takes place every two years in London’s Docklands. DSEI is jointly organised by Clarion Events and the UK Government. Buyers include countries involved in conflict and from human rights abusing regimes.

In September 2015 over 1500 exhibitors attended from around the world, including most of the world’s largest arms companies, displaying arms ranging from rifles to tanks, fighter jets, battleships, missiles, military electronics, surveillance and riot control equipment.

The expert witnesses have supplied written reports and will attend in person to give oral evidence for the defence concerning the nature of the DSEI arms fair:

Andrew_Feinstein

Andrew Feinstein is a former ANC Member of Parliament in South Africa who resigned in 2001 in protest at the government’s refusal to allow an unfettered investigation into a £5bn arms deal that has been identified as the biggest corruption scandal in South Africa’s history. He went on to author The Shadow World, a book described by the Washington Post as “possibly the most complete account [of the global arms trade] ever written.” He is currently Executive Director of Corruption Watch UK, an NGO which researches the global arms trade and details and exposes weapons violations, bribery, corruption and other malfeasance.

Oliver Sprague2

Oliver Sprague is Programme Director of Arms Control and Policing at Amnesty International UK. He has worked on technical aspects of UK arms export controls for over 20 years. Sprague gives regular oral and written evidence to the Parliamentary Select Committee working on arms export controls. He has given expert evidence on breaches of export control legislation at DSEI (and other defence exhibitions) on numerous occasions.

BIRD

Sayed Ahmed is Director of Advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), a London-based NGO which seeks to improve human rights and accountability in Bahrain.

The defendants themselves will also seek to give personal testimony of their reasons for opposing the arms fair and the catalogue of oppressive regimes that shop there.

This will include a firsthand account from a Bahraini activist who was tortured during the Bahraini uprising; an account from a Kurdish Solidarity activist with experience of Turkey’s brutal repression and attacks on Kurdistan; and an anti-militarist activist who has previously sought to privately prosecute two arms companies for the promotion of illegal torture weapons at DSEI 2013.

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September’s protests

The defendants will be using the defence of necessity, arguing that their actions were justified since they were intended to prevent greater crimes including:
* The sale of weapons to internally repressive regimes including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia;
* The sale of weapons to countries imminently at war and overtly complicit in ongoing war crimes in Yemen, Kurdistan and Palestine;
* The sale of weapons to regimes that have been widely accused of arming ISIS; and
* The promotion for sale of weapons that are designed specifically for torture or banned under international law for their capabilities concerning the mass indiscriminate killing of civilians.

Defendant Tom Franklin, 57, of Clifton Without, York said: “It is intolerable that the government is supporting the sale of illegal weapons and weapons being used to kill ordinary people from the West Bank to Yemen and Sudan.  ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.’ So I had to try to prevent evil”.

dseipic3

In a joint public statement,the Defendants Campaign said: “We know that the tools of the type promoted for sale at DSEI will be used to reinforce apartheid, to surveil and brutalise communities from Brixton to Bahrain, and to perpetuate the border regime that kills thousands every year – as European states wage a war against the refugees they helped create.

“We know that weapons promoted at DSEI are used to incinerate whole families at the touch of a button in places from Palestine to Pakistan. We know that such weapons will continue to devastate landscapes and do permanent environmental damage across the globe. And that these weapons have been used in systematic forced evictions and ethnic cleansing; such as against the people of Kurdistan.

“And we know that weapons of the type promoted at DSEI will be used to torture and repress people based on their political views, faith, gender, or sexuality in places like Saudi Arabia. Sometimes the tools of oppression are literal – and they are for sale at DSEI arms fair.”

The week-long trial is listed to start on Monday April 11 2016 at Stratford Magistrates Court in London. The defendants will be represented in court by Kellys Solicitors of Brighton, Hodge Jones & Allen of London and Bindmans Solicitors of London.

A roundup of the week of direct action against DSEI:

https://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/week-of-action-round-up/

More information about the DSEI arms fair can be found here:

www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/about/dsei/

www.caat.org.uk

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4. The obliteration of European civilization via the subversion of the early Christian church by Roman emperors

by Rob los Ricos.

Having been involved with various US revolutionary organizations from the age of 12, Rob was arrested at a Reclaim the Streets festival in Eugene, Oregon, on June 18 1999. He was accused of throwing a rock at a cop, and was subsequently beaten by police. He was ultimately charged with rioting, first degree assault, and second degree assault and was given a nearly 8 year prison sentence.

rlr

This is the oldest symbol for the Christian faith. It may also be the oldest symbol of divine authority in what passes as “western” civilization.

There’s a lot more to say about this particular symbol, but for now let’s focus on its elegant simplicity. Because it was an upstart religion and illegal in the Roman empire, Christians needed a secretive way to identify one another. So, when wanting to inquire about someone’s belief, a Christian could draw half the symbol in the dirt with a finger. If the other party involved finished it, they recognized one another as part of the Church. If not, no harm done, the image quickly erased, easypeasy.

After the church was decriminalized, a new symbol was bestowed upon the Romanized religion, the cross.

rlr2

The ruler of the eastern provinces of the Roman empire, Constantine, supposedly had a vision as he tossed and turned in his sleep, worried about an upcoming battle. Either that, or he was given a sign from heaven on his way there. More likely he just made this story up.

Regardless of the inspiration, Constantine was given a sign from some god or another – I’m not sure they ever specify – which he regarded as a license to kill. The two symbols combined in the banner above allegedly signify “by this sign, conquer.”

From this moment on, Christianity was not a religion of love, tolerance, sharing, and community. From this point on, Christianity was some unseen god’s holy scourge, come to rid the world of sinful non-believers with sword and fire. Ever notice how much Catholics have enjoyed burning people alive over the centuries?

The symbol of the cross eventually morphed into the more recognizable “+” form, then further transformed into… something awful.

rlr3

This is the image of Jesus the ancient Churches like. It’s traumatizing. It’s meant to be.

The message sent by the authorities: “See that? There’s your god of love for you! He’s dead! If we killed your god, do you think we’ll have any mercy on you?”

Christians ever since have been very enthusiastic in slaughter, genocide, rape, and plunder. Rape, by the way, is not prohibited in the bible. There are a number of responsibilities spelt out for rapists in the old testament, including an obligation to marry the victim. I do not believe the victim is given a say in the matter.

And in the new testament, women are encouraged to be submissive to men.

Constantine undertook a war to eliminate the Zoroastrian religion. Their priests were known as Magi, and were mentioned with quite a lot of respect in the telling of Jesus’ birth.

The Romans killed every living Magi, and burned or otherwise destroyed their teachings.

I can’t help but think this was done because what the Magi taught was self-directed enlightenment and inner growth. What the Christian Church had decided on as its doctrine – in the council of Nicea Constantine sponsored ten years prior – was batshit crazy by comparison. Constantine was eliminating the competition.

He never made Christianity the official state religion (that would come later), even after his own “conversion.” As mentioned above, the conversion affected the Church more than vice-versa. The emperor has remade it in his own image.

Constantine’s end goal was likely to proclaim himself as the sun god, sol invictus, and Roman coinage, as well as works of art and architecture, portrayed him as Sol’s companion. He never did get around to announcing his own divinity. He did, however, make Sun day the official Christian day of rest and adulation.

Subsequent emperors burned the library of Antioch, and later banned teaching of science in the entire empire. People of other faiths were prohibited from being officers in the army, and a heretical Christian sect – the Manicheans – were exterminated for providing a sane, believable doctrine for Christians.

And just to rub a little salt in the wounds of a bleeding populace, pope Dumbass I outlawed public baths across the empire. Less than century later, unhygienic conditions contributed to a severe outbreak of bubonic plague.

The Church outlawed all forms of date-keeping, navigational charts and equipment, and any reference to the world as being spherical. No one believed the world was flat and the earth was the center of the universe. People started pretending to believe it when anyone saying otherwise was burned alive in public squares.

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The Oronteus Finaeus map, showing Antarctica with ice-free coasts, mountains and rivers. It was based on older maps, lost to His-story

The Church also outlawed all non-Christian schools and ordered the obliteration of all knowledge kept at the great library of Alexandria – perhaps the greatest repository of human knowledge ever assembled in one place.

Not only did they destroy ancient scrolls, books, and other writings, they massacred everyone who had learned to read. Millions of tradesmen, artisans, and craftsmen were slaughtered.

A holocaust (burnt offering) of millions of people practicing another “heretical” – i.e. non-Roman – form of Christianity, the Donatists in North Africa, was ordered. An entire region depopulated. Every man, woman, and child.

The church decreed that every book not written by Christian hands be destroyed.

“There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity. It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn.”

–Augustine (354 C.E.- 430 C.E.)

alexandrialibrary
The burning of the library of Alexandria

War was declared against the cultures of Egypt and Greece. The ancient library of Athens was torn down, all the scribes and priests burned alive. Roman facades were put on ancient temples. Others were torn down and replaced with Christian churches.

Ireland was likewise invaded, but the mercenary Patrick was not up to the task and relented after merely massacring half-a-million people. He reported to Rome that the “serpents have been eliminated,” but he was really giving the Celts some time to hide their knowledge.

Just around 200 years from the time Constantine remade Christianity for his own bloody purposes, the population of the ancient European world had plummeted drastically, and human civilization set back thousands of years. Some estimates claim over 110,000,000 people had died due to conflict, sacrifice, disease, and hunger.

AND WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WAS LOST AS A RESULT. We can only guess, based on physical evidence left behind.

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5. Radical truth behind the fiction

Fakcoversmall

Fiction is not always the most obvious means through which to present a political and metaphysical philosophy – even a great novelist such as Leo Tolstoy turned his back on the genre in order to express himself directly to the public through essays.

So it was a little surprising to find that writer Paul Cudenec, who has so far confined himself to non-fiction works such as The Anarchist Revelation and Forms of Freedom, had decided to launch himself into the world of the novel.

Having read The Fakir of Florence (Sussex: Winter Oak, 2016), it becomes clear what attracted him to the idea. Rather than running away from his root message into the distraction of fiction, he has used the form of a novel to present this message in an imaginative and entertaining context.

On the surface, the book revolves around the story of a kind of anarchist mystic who turns up in Florence during the Renaissance, but there is much more to it than that.

florence_scene_big

Cudenec takes the opportunity to examine the corruption of art by money, the recuperation of opposing philosophies by the dominant system, the artificiality of modern life and thought, the nature of artistic self-expression, the subversive potential of godless spirituality, the need for individuals to accept existential responsibility and so on.

There is a real richness of intelligent reflection here, freed from the usual restraints of linear essay composition and allowed to flow and intertwine in a way that opens the mind of the reader to their own contemplation.

threethreads

The book’s subtitle, “A Novel in Three Layers”  is an important guide in two ways. Firstly, it makes it clear that the three distinct threads within the book are all part of one overall thing. Secondly, it confirms that this overall thing is a work of fiction.

I say this because the first “layer”, in which an English writer in Florence visits various sites in the Italian city, grumbles about tourism and offers layman’s commentaries on the history of art, reads initially like a non-fiction travel diary.

Likewise, the second layer, an account of the “fakir” in 15th century Florence, seems very much like historical analysis.

persia

Only the third layer, a series of metaphorical tales from some fantastic and remote age of legends, is obviously a work of fiction.

This is all a deliberate piece of psychological trickery, as Cudenec makes clear, because it is in fact in the third layer that the greatest degree of “reality” can be found!

He has Perantulo, his most “unreal” character, declare: “Even if I were an invented character presented by a fictional story-teller in an account that was itself a mere fabrication-within-a-fabrication, my words could contain more truth than a lifetime of proven facts listed by someone whose solid physical existence was completely beyond dispute!”

This notion of an authentic inner “reality” or “truth” is key to Cudenec’s brand of anarchist metaphysics, which finds its inspiration in the likes of Gustav Landauer, Aldous Huxley and Herbert Read.

plotinus
Plotinus

Ultimately it is an extension of the “realism” of neo-Platonists like Plotinus, in which the inner essence behind the superficial everyday world is considered more real than physical form. So when Cudenec undermines the fictional elements of his own creation, he is making the point that the form was always inherently false in any case.

The final sections of the novel have a compelling pace to them. There is a satisfying sense of convergence, as what appeared to diverse and unrelated elements prove to be nothing but different aspects of the one thing.

The story’s surprising conclusion can no more be explained away in rational terms than can the plot of films like Mulholland Drive or Donnie Darko, but it is perhaps best summed up (without giving anything away!) by the last few lines of the novel.

“And with that he doubled the speed of his whirling, tripled it, then multiplied it beyond the imagination of the sharpest mathematician. Perantulo whirled at such a speed that he caught up the passing of time itself, overtook it and then looped right round to approach it from behind, like the snake that devours its own tail. And then this hoop of time likewise began to spin, faster and ever faster, until it too had become a blur like the golden coin on the tabletop and until the vanity of its fake structure could no longer hide the all-embracing glory of its infinite and eternal fire”.

R. Silva

whirl

The Fakir of Florence, published by Winter Oak, can be ordered online here and will shortly be available from Active Distribution.

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6. Money, sex and power: on a sham biography of Guy Debord

guydebord

A new “biography” of  the revolutionary thinker Guy Debord is nothing but a deliberate and dishonest attack on him and the ideas he stood for.

That is the damning verdict from writer Gianfranco Sanguinetti, who worked closely with Debord in the Situationist movement.

Donald Nicholson-Smith’s English translation of Sanguinetti’s piece on Jean-Marie Apostolidès’ “sham biography” Debord le Naufrageur (Debord the Wrecker), can be found here, with the French original here.

debordbook
Warning – this is NOT a biography

Sanguinetti makes it clear that Apostolidès’ book has to be seen in the context of a dominant culture that denies legitimacy to any thinking that strays outside its narrow and shallow confines.

He writes: “Nor is it only authentic opponents that must be destroyed, but also all those who may have existed earlier, whose memory and model have to be erased, demolished or besmirched.

“Every tendency to revolt and desire for change among younger generations must be thwarted and struck down, and all precedents for them and the very memory of those precedents smothered.

“Any conceivable emulation has to be forestalled. All Walter Benjamins driven to suicide. Lists of subversives drawn up. Genuine rebellions, along with genuine rebels, crushed once and for all, eliminated, denounced, smeared and pilloried in view of the absolute need to highlight only deliberately fabricated and fetishized adversaries”.

vat of wine

As far as Apostolidès’ book itself is concerned, Sanguinetti writes: “Let me say straight away that this work, as I shall show, apart from being a crashing bore, is in no way a biography. I spent a mere three hours with it, for after all there is no need to drink five hundred litres of wine to tell whether it is good or bad – or indeed to know that it is not wine at all (as, mutatis mutandis, is the case here).

“This is in no sense a biography of Guy Debord, but rather a long-winded piece of investigative journalism directed against Debord that offers only hostile ‘testimony’ and not a word about Debord’s work, about his art and his time, about his cinema, or about his courage in a position of virtual isolation. So the book is of strictly no value to historians. It is simply not a source. The author’s use of documentation is deeply dishonest, for he selects only what he deems inculpatory.

“The Society of the Spectacle is one of three books of the twentieth century, alongside George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, that are still vital to any understanding of the twenty-first.

fourier statue
Situationists put Fourier back in his rightful place in Paris in 1969

“Apostolidès does not so much as mention the Strasbourg scandal and its crucial influence as a catalyst of May 1968. That struggle, its stakes and its seriousness, find no place in his book. The author also completely ignores the proliferation of Situationist theories and practice. Not a word, for instance, about what was perhaps the first work of street art or guerrilla art, our reinstallation of a statue of Charles Fourier in Place Clichy, Paris, in 1969, the original having been removed by the Nazis.

“Nothing, of course, of the magnificently successful creation of situations by the Yesmen; or by the Russian Voina group and Pussy Riot, who acknowledge their debt to Debord and the Situationists; nothing either of the Czech Stovoven group, or Banksy, or Kommunikationsguerilla, or the hacktivists, or a host of others too numerous to cite here who have put the Situationist legacy to practical use.

“Not to mention the wide-ranging influence exerted by the Situationists not only on all subsequent critical social theory but also on various kinds of détournement, class struggle and sabotage practised in factories and offices in Italy and elsewhere. This is the sense in which the Situationist International was an avant-garde. All of this, for the professor, is a complete blank. So much for scholarship.

Pussy_Riot
Pussy Riot

“Since the author is kind enough never, even on a single page, to conceal his wish to denigrate – the sole point, I have to concede, upon which he is sincere and disciplined – he renders everything he mentions vulgar, which once again speaks volumes about himself: wherever you open the book, you encounter nothing but the profoundly sordid, mean-spirited, or obscene. Henry Miller put his finger exactly on this kind of mentality: ‘Obscenity exists only in the minds that discover it and charge others with it’.

fleas

“Were he called upon to discuss the Odyssey, Apostolidès would never get beyond the fleas on Ulysses’ head, because he can never perceive anything above his own level, and everything is therefore brought down to that level.

“Such individuals may teach at a prestigious university but they are incapable of producing a real, rigorous or in any way serious historical and critical analysis: all they can muster is either the aforesaid unctuous praise or spineless outrage.

apost1
“Jean-Marie Apostolidès is a cop” – a sticker which has been appearing in Paris

Professor Apostolidès will continue in any case to stand as a shining example of everything an honest and disciplined researcher should avoid – a concrete instance, if ever there was, and a caution to every student, of the disastrous mingling of those two forms of dishonesty, both on shameless exhibition in a police report poorly disguised as a work of historical scholarship.

“This book is hopelessly lacking in conviction, vigour, energy and freshness. It reads like work for hire, written on commission, a failed attempt to put Guy Debord and an entire movement in the stocks, something a world away from a faithful, legitimate and honest critique. Still, I draw comfort from its existence, for it signals that despite all their faults the Situationists continue to be a beacon of insubordination and a nightmare that still haunts the sleep of an era, a true successor to theirs, which cannot bear to have enemies that it has not manufactured for its own ends”.

Full article:

http://cipmarseille.com/cahierdurefuge/sanguinetti-eng/book.swf

See also:

Paris 13.11: Morale Operation by Gianfranco Sanguinetti

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7. Building an anarchist future – the Bristol call-out

bristolbookfair16

The 8th Bristol Anarchist Bookfair is being held on Saturday April 30 2016, from 11am to 6pm, at Trinity Centre, Trinity Road, Bristol, BS2 0NW, with the The Radical History Zone just 5 minutes down the road at Hydra Bookshop. Here is the call-out from the bookfair collective:

Every year seems to bring more bad news. The poor have to pay for the mistakes of the rich through unjust schemes like the Bedroom Tax, while the sick lose their benefits to Work Capability Assessments and the like, leaving suicide rates on the up. Those who are sanctioned have all income stripped away, and governmental Workfare schemes push businesses to choose free labour over paid staff.

The cuts, as predicted, have hit the poorest hardest, with many having to choose between heating or food. Public services like care homes and day centres continue to vanish. The NHS is being ripped apart and sold off, taking away vital services, such as mental health, from those who need it most. Massive school budget cuts lead to unqualified teaching staff. Workers must work longer and harder for less, many with the uncertainty of zero-hour contracts and part-time work, with no hope of a pension.

floods hebden bridge
Floods in England – at Hebden Bridge

At the same time farmers are given false hope through the murder of hundreds of endangered badgers. Global climate change has seen droughts lasting years in many countries, with the natural result of unsustainable export-crop agriculture leaving only harvest failure and starvation. Extreme weather patterns have increased flooding everywhere, and entire ecosystems move closer to the brink.

At the same time ‘our’ government’s policies only heighten the threat of climate change through fracking and airport expansion. The weapons trade, wars for oil, and extreme right-wing politics have stirred up conflict throughout the middle east and beyond, pushing ordinary people towards drastic decisions to try and save their lives.

There is hope though – people have been fighting back. Whether that is through strikes, direct action or the taking up of arms. Capitalism isn’t working. Reformism has failed. People want change.

cuts protest

But if capitalism collapsed tomorrow, we ask ourselves:
Would we be ready?

As anarchists, we spend a lot of time fighting against oppressive structures, whether it be patriarchy, polluters, bosses, or weapons manufacturers. But we also discuss our hopes and dreams for a new, more equal world – that of anarchism. We have developed concepts around mutual aid, solidarity, co-operation, direct action, equality, and non-hierarchical organisation, but how do we put these into practice?

At this year’s Bristol Anarchist Bookfair, we want to create a safe space for people to explore these ideas, whether you are new to the concept or an old hand. How would we do health care, education or food production differently? How will we create a more equal society, so that people will feel safe and accepted whatever their sexual orientation, gender, ability, race or age?

What about oppressive behaviour; how will we hold people to account for their actions if we abolish prisons and the police? How will we distribute resources worldwide? Who will do the cleaning, road maintenance, sewage treatment and other ‘dirty work’?

If revolutions happen tomorrow we won’t have all the answers, and an anarchist society will not occur overnight – there will be ongoing change & adaptation. But the core principles of anarchism provide us with the building blocks for the future, and how to get there. Let’s be ready!

In love & solidarity – Bristol anarchist bookfair collective 2016

anarchism

  • A reminder that Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair is being held on Saturday April 23 2016 from 10am to 6pm at Showroom Workstation, 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S1 2BX.

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8. Acorninfo

Anti-fascists held a successful mobilisation against extreme-right wingers in Dover on Saturday April 2. Describing the latest victory over the fash, antfascistnetwork.org reports: “They had very low numbers, and it took the combined protection of about 5 different police forces for them to march 500m through town, and even then we held them up for nearly 2 hours! All this plus the fact that we proudly marched an aid convoy to Calais through the centre of town right under their noses, and they couldn’t do jack about it”.

dover
Police move in on anti-fascists in Dover

* * *

The British state is using the pretext of a terrorist threat to flood the country with hundreds more armed police. The Independent reports that the 400 gun-wielding cops will be “stationed across the country poised to deal with a Paris-style terror attack” and that “the beefed-up network of armed police units is intended to complement military contingency plans already in place to deploy up to 10,000 troops in the event of a terror attack”. Far from being a question of the state “protecting the public” from terrorism, as the authorities like to claim, the whole story is about the state using the threat of terrorism to protect itself better from the public. The armed cops are being installed to deal not so much with a “Paris-style terror attack” as a “Paris-style revolt” – the whole charade being  about frightening and beating the population into submission.

armedpolice

* * *

An invaluable new resource for admirers of the great German-Jewish anarchist Gustav Landauer has gone online. The bibliography gathers primary as well as secondary literature, it mentions all known texts and talks by Landauer. There are already more than 1,600 items, including Landauer’s own writings as well as scholarly articles, monographs, book reviews, novels, and newspaper articles dedicated to Landauer or simply mentioning his name.  It can be found here.

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Gustav Landauer

* * *

“It’s necessary for all of us to make a journey back to enchantment. Enchantment is a facility that we are born with, but lose as we grow older,” writes author Sharon Blackie in an inspiring online article. “We forget that we live on an animate earth, and so find ourselves lonely and alienated. We no longer know how to belong. We find meaning only in ourselves and the gadgets we’ve created to amuse us, and tell ourselves and our children that this is a necessary part of becoming ‘grown-up’. So it is that we find ourselves inhabiting a Wasteland, and the journey out of this Wasteland is a journey towards re-enchantment”.

enchantment

* * *

The FBI is ordering high schools across the USA to report students who criticize government policies and “western corruption” as potential future terrorists, reports Infoshop News. The guidelines warn that “anarchist extremists” are in the same category as ISIS terrorists.

FBI

* * *

A reminder of a May Day invitation in London, as featured in Acorn 22. Ancient energies and modern anger will be coming together in a the fourth anti-gentrification Fuck Parade from 6pm on Sunday May 1 2016 at One Commercial Street, London E1 7PT. “Dress code: smart casual, with masks“.

maydayfuck

* * *

Acorn quote: “It is as simple as that: we have lost touch with things, lost the physical experience that comes from a direct contact with organic processes of nature… We know it – instinctively we know it and walk like blind animals into a darker age than history has ever known”.

Herbert Read, The Contrary Experience

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

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The Acorn – 15

acornmastheadnew

Number 15


In this issue:

  1. Capitalism is built on violence and lies
  2. Free the Love Bank Five!
  3. Panic in high places
  4. Resisting NATO in southern Europe
  5. Blocking the death-dealers
  6. Acorninfo

1. Capitalism is built on violence and lies

g8cops2

The biggest, ugliest truth hidden at the core of the capitalist system is that it is built on violence.

This is something that it never admits and that it can never allow to be generally understood – instead it spreads around a load of drivel about democracy, markets and competition, about enterprise, endeavour and opportunity.

But the fact remains that the capitalist state was created by violence, is maintained by violence and is always prepared to resort to all the forms of violence at its disposal to resist challenges to its power.

prison

The “law” itself, that foundation of its control over the population, is the flag of convenience under which this violence is carried out.

Physically attacking someone is violence, even if you happen to be dressed up in some fancy clothes provided by the state. Physically confining someone in a locked space, with the constant use and threat of force, is also violence, even if you put on a stupid wig to announce what you are going to do to them. Bombing someone is violence, as is shooting them, torturing them, spraying them with chemicals.

Wearing down someone’s resistance, forcing them to follow your rules, to live the way you tell them to, by means of a permanent, lifelong threat of violence if they step out of line is also, needless to say, violence.

Right and wrong have no place in the artificial world of “legal” and “illegal” which capitalism and its state machinery have imposed on us.

diggers

Land ownership is theft – from all the rest of us! – but is declared “legal” and the state can therefore “legitimately” use violence to protect that theft.

Everything else flows from there. Kicked off the land, former peasants are forced to work for the capitalists in order to earn money to buy the food that grows in the soil.

Wage slavery is also theft and exploitation but there is nothing “illegal” about it in the eyes of a capitalist state. Indeed, it uses its back-to-front “law” to prevent the victims from standing up to their oppressors – using violence as and when necessary.

orgreave2
The British state uses violence on striking miners 30 years ago

orgreave

It is very important to the capitalist system that its violence remains invisible to most people, that it can continue its nefarious activities unchallenged by a population that has been fooled into thinking that “legal” is the same as “right”.

So it must also ensure that voices exposing its violence, and the deceit with which it hides this violence, are quickly silenced. Again, it uses the self-feeding circular logic of its own lies to justify this.

Capitalism hides behind a state, which physically imposes the capitalist system on the people. The state hides behind the idea of “legality”, having created a legal system which declares the state to be legal! Anyone opposing the capitalist system and its state are therefore opposed to this “legality” and can be regarded as criminals.

Having pre-defined all opposition to its system as criminal in itself, regardless of any specific activity, the capitalist state has proved to its own satisfaction that it is “legal” to act against them in any way that it sees fit.

policesurveillance

It is “legal” to spy on the “criminals” who oppose capitalism, to monitor their every move, to follow them, to film them, record them. It is “legal” to infiltrate their ranks, to lie to them, to betray them, to lead them astray, to sabotage their work, their lives and their ideas. It is “legal” to slander them, to frame them, to rape them.

Because the capitalist system’s thinking is closed in on itself, there is no point in trying to challenge the phoney idea of “legality” with which its justifies its oppression and violence.

To do so merely makes you more of a “criminal” in its eyes – more of a “threat to democracy”, more of an “extremist”, more of a “terrorist“.

The self-serving logic of the system can never concede that the real crime is capitalism itself.

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2. Free the Love Bank Five!

Liverpool
This spring’s Liverpool occupation

A nasty example of the oppressive violence of the capitalist British system came in Liverpool on September 17, when a court sentenced five anti-capitalists to imprisonment for a protest occupation.

The Love Activists will be locked up by the state – two of them in jail and three in a young offenders’ institution – for ten long weeks after daring to take action against homelessness.

There were disturbances inside and outside the court as the sentences were handed down. One man in his late fifties was dressed in a superman costume as he shouted at officers: “Feeding the homeless is not a crime! Homeless not banks!”

Others waved hand-painted banners saying: “Resisting homelessness” and “Homes not Banks”.

Two further people were arrested during the protest which spilled over from the court area onto the Strand behind, and at one point blocked the southbound carriageway during rush hour.

Liverpool3
The Love Bank occupation – deemed a heinous crime by the British state

As we reported in Acorn 9, the Love Activists moved into the unoccupied city centre bank in the middle of April to set up a support centre for Liverpool’s homeless people, incorporating places to sleep, an advice centre and a street kitchen, before being evicted a month later.

Their crime was “trespass” – a law which takes us right back to the core of a system which grew from the violent theft of the land from the people by a tiny elite. The imprisonment of the “trespassers” is the continuation of that historic violence.

Liverpool2

The words of District Judge Andrew Shaw also shed some light on the thinking of the system and the restraints it places on our freedom to do what we know is the right thing.

In sentencing, he condemned the “selfish actions” of the activists and added: “The apparent object of the exercise was to protest about the plight of the homeless. None of the defendants have done any work in the community to benefit the homeless. None of you worked for charities or voluntary organisations in the immediate lead-up to this offence; indeed the majority had no charitable involvement”.

What he’s saying here is that in a capitalist system it is only permissible to treat the symptoms of social ills, never the root causes which are deeply embedded in the structure of the system itself.

So it’s OK to help individual homeless people, OK for the rich to hand out patronising “charity” to the poor but completely unacceptable to try to change society so that everyone has a roof over their head or so that the earth is a common treasury for all, as Gerrard Winstanley put it, and there is no longer such a thing as “the rich” or “the poor”.

There is a limit to your right to participate in society – that’s the message of Judge Shaw to the activists he has sent behind bars. And if you dare stray beyond that point, by taking any kind of real action, the British state will unleash its age-old violence against you.

liverpool-loveactivistslogo

A statement from Love Activists said: “Love Activists are outraged and disgusted by the sentences handed out to the Love Bank Five today. The judge today showed a clear prejudice against the activists, as they openly applied their personal opinions to legislative law: they declared that it is ‘selfish’ for someone to openly help homeless people or indeed be homeless yourself.

“We, Love Activists, stand in full solidarity with the Love Bank Five, and strongly oppose the harsh sentencing imposed today by a judge clearly lacking impartiality. We fully support any campaign to see the unjust sentences overturned”.

Support the campaign against the sentences via the #freelovebank5 hashtag on Twitter.

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3. Panic in high places

cops downing street
Armed police in Downing Street protect David Cameron from the public – and possibly from angry farm animals

Two recent political developments nicely sum up the increasingly authoritarian capitalism of the UK state.

One of them is the Trade Union Bill, which is currently working its way through the UK parliament.

This will place ludicrous restrictions on trade unionists’ freedom to strike and protest. For instance, it will introduce fines of up to £20,000 for unions whose members do not wear identifying armbands when picketing and will allow bosses to hire agency temps to break strikes.

picket

Adds Netpol: “Amidst its highly restrictive current provisions, the Bill will require unions to report their intention to organise any protest – including any form of demonstration related to an industrial dispute that takes place away from the workplace – to employers and regulators 14 days in advance of any action.

“The Bill’s automatic assumption is that any form of union-organised protest is ‘intimidation’ and requires curbing… the government appears intent on using ‘intimidation’ as a useful excuse for clamping down on any protests against corporate interests that include union participation”.

The Bill is clearly a draconian attack on the right to strike and organise. Even Tory MP David Davis condemned the idea of obliging picketers to give their names to the police as like something from Franco’s Spanish state and a poll showed the legislation was opposed by two thirds of the British public.

Franco (right) - a role model for fellow right-winger David Cameron?
Franco (right) – a role model for fellow right-winger David Cameron?

But the ruling clique continues to describe it with the vocabulary they always use to describe all their policies. Business secretary Sajid Javid declared that: “The heart of this is all about democracy… It is simply the latest stage in the long journey of modernization and reform”.

Inside the same parallel universe in which democracy is a synonym for capitalism, this plutofascistic new law attacking workers’ freedom is presented as good news for “hardworking people” (Javid again), with the right-wing Spectactor brazenly insisting, without the slightest hint of embarrassment, that “the Trade Union Bill defends workers”.

The same dogmatic ultra-capitalist mindset can be seen behind the British Establishment’s reaction to Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party.

You don’t have to be a supporter of Corbyn, or to see his politics as particularly radical or interesting, in order to appreciate the significance of the relentless attacks on him. In fact, from an anarchist perspective the vitriol deployed against Corbyn seems even more extraordinary.

He isn’t calling for the destruction of the state (far from it!), for an end to private land ownership, for the abolition of prisons, for the disbanding of the army and the police, for an end to wage slavery, for the removal of all borders, for the abandonment of the pursuit of ecocidal “growth” and industrialism or for the complete decentralisation of decision-making to a consensus-based community level. He is happy to work within the putrid parliamentary system and to acknowledge its legitimacy, along with that of the “law” and the monarchy.

And yet he was still described by the prime minister as “a threat to our national security”. As Nafeez Ahmed pointed out on Twitter, David Cameron was here evoking “the language of Hitler and Stalin”.

Stalin - he knew a threat to national security when he saw one
Stalin – he knew a threat to national security when he saw one

Senior generals have also been warning of an army “mutiny” (or even military coup?) if Corbyn ever managed to become PM.

This extreme reaction to Corbyn’s ascendancy, alongside the government’s attack on the trade unions, doesn’t merely highlight the narrow agenda of the corporate-military ruling elite.

It also points to their growing sense of panic that they might lose control, that the public have not been completely pacified by their propaganda and scared into submission by their armies of thick-skulled uniformed thugs.

Courageous people are still prepared to take a stand against the horrors of the industrial-military-capitalist complex in all the various forms it takes – arms fairs, refugee crises, homelessness, fracking, exploitation, environmental destruction, racism, police violence and repression.

If Cameron and his venal Bullingdon buddies think the Corbynist wing of the Labour Party is alarming, we can’t wait to see their faces when they encounter the rise of the real resistance!

cameronandpig

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4. Resisting NATO in southern Europe

nato-1

Anti-militarists in southern Europe are planning resistance to massive and alarming NATO “war games” being staged in October and the start of November.

The “Trident Juncture” manoeuvres – mainly in Italy, Portugal and the Spanish State – will involve more than 36,000 troops from 30 states.

They will be “the most important NATO exercise during 2015” and “the largest deployment of NATO forces since the Cold War”, according to the Spanish Defence Ministry.

nato3

There is a sinister sub-text to the exercises, in which NATO says it will implement the “lessons” it learned in the war of occupation in Afghanistan.

The whole thing is looking very much like a dress rehearsal for massive military intervention across the Mediterranean in northern Africa, so rich in the minerals and hydrocarbons needed to keep the industrial capitalist system churning.

Although the pretext for the focus on Africa is the Islamist threat, and the war games will also send a belligerent message to Moscow, analysts think the main target of the US-led initiative is to combat Chinese influence in the continent.

Says a report on thefreeonline blog: “China is investing in many African countries, building infrastructure to extract natural resources – especially minerals – from the continent. Curbing Chinese expansion in Africa from the main competitor of the member states of the Atlantic Alliance, is one of the hidden motives of these ‘super wargames’. All this is part of the imperialist competition between the military powers and their dependence on the commercial interests of transnational corporations”.

NATO-2

Various call-outs have already been made for anti-NATO action in Madrid, Gibraltar, Zaragoza, Albacete and Cadiz.

Activists in Italy are planning protests outside NATO’s Rome HQ from October 8 to 11, as the exercises get underway, with other actions likely across the country.

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5. Blocking the death-dealers

DSEI1
The body bags pile up outside the DSEI arms fair in London

Anti-militarists have been in action in London in September, with two weeks of protests against the DSEI arms fair in the Docklands.

Among the highlights of a successful mobilisation were:

* Numerous demonstrations both before and during the militarist murder-fest. There is a report on the main day of action here. Police maintained their proud tradition of using violence against those trying to stop the violence being facilitated by the arms fair – see this video, for instance.

DSEI5
Blockading the arms fair

* Artists from Banksy’s Dismaland theme park visited East London to decorate bus stops and Docklands Light Railway trains with anti-DSEI subvertising.

dsei art

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* The arms fair’s cyber security was breached by anarchists calling themselves the Information Liberation Front (ILF), who leaked documents to the Indymedia UK website.

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6. Acorninfo

Anti-industrial activists from ZAD protest camps across France are to converge on Paris in December for the Cop21 climate summit (see Acorn 14). They will be going to the capital on foot, bike and tractor to make a stand against the destruction of our planet by the capitalist system. Info at http://marchesurlacop.noblogs.org

zadmarch

* * *

“The use of unmanned drones to launch so-called ‘risk free’ attacks in remote areas of the world has rocketed over the past decade. Technology, we are told, can control the chaos of war. The reality is that armed drones make it much easier for governments to opt to use lethal military force rather than engage in diplomatic or political solutions”. This is the warning from http://dronewars.net, a UK website packed with information about the drone menace.

drone image

* * *

Environmentalists in South Korea are furious after the Winter Olympics construction mafia felled thousands of trees just to build a ski slope for the one-off event. Rebecca Kim of SungkongHoe University in Seoul reports: “Pyeongchang2018 has completed the destruction of the primeval forest which has stood on Mount Gariwang for hundreds of years to make way for the Alpine Downhill ski event which will last for all of three days. This act and its unbelievable criminality have gone almost entirely unreported and unremarked in the world’s media”.

Gariwang
Mount Gariwang – devastated

* * *

The discovery of a previously unknown 4,500-year-old 90-stone monument near Stonehenge has led to renewed outrage at government plans to drive a new road through the area. Said the Stonehenge Alliance: “The massive stone monument recently discovered under the southern bank of Durrington Walls is yet another reason why the Government needs to abandon its proposal for a ‘short’ tunnel near Stonehenge and substantial road building within the World Heritage Site”.

stonehenge

* * *

Acorn quote: “May the revolution bring rebirth. May, since we need nothing so much as new, uncorrupted men rising up out of the unknown darkness and depths, may these renewers, purifiers, saviors not be lacking to our nation. Long live the revolution, and may it grow and rise to new levels in hard, wonderful years. May the nations be imbued with the new, creative spirit out of their task, out of the new conditions, out of the primeval, eternal and unconditional depths, the new spirit that really does create new conditions. May the revolution produce religion, a religion of action, life, love, that makes men happy, redeems them and overcomes impossible situations”.

Gustav Landauer, For Socialism

revolutionaries2

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

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The Acorn – 12

acornmastheadnew

Number 12


In this issue:

  1. Anarchy resurgent!
  2. East London Rising!
  3. Anarchism, capitalism and industry
  4. Anarchism in chains?
  5. Terror and the capitalist system
  6. Anti-terrorism is not what it says it is
  7. UK anarchists pull off cheeky repeat factory occupation
  8. Anti-road resistance in Rize
  9. Acorninfo

1. Anarchy resurgent!

anarchyart

Hopeful signs are emerging that anarchism is on the point of an invigorating worldwide resurgence in the second half of the second decade of the 21st century.

The abject sell-out of Syriza in Greece, together with the general redundancy of the Left (see Acorn 11) and the increasing irrelevance of “democratic” institutions in the face of total corporate-military control are all paving the way for a revival.

And anarchism itself is responding by rediscovering some of the vigour and spirit it lost in the course of a 20th century in which radical idealism was crushed not just by capitalism but by its fake adversary, state-capitalist communism.

Anarchists are increasingly leaving behind the dull bureaucratic brand of anarchism (see below) that has sometimes given it a bad name in past decades.

And they are deepening their commitment to action as well as to words, to a heart-felt belief in the rightness of the anarchist ideal rather than to a dusty dogmatic affiliation, to an urgent need to challenge and confront the capitalist beast wherever it rears its head.

This real anarchism understands that while fascism has to be fought in the streets, it has hidden strongholds in the board rooms, in the police stations, in the prisons and detention centres.

It understands that to oppose militarism is to oppose capitalism in its most raw and directly murderous incarnation.

It appreciates that capitalism also takes on a physical form in all its infrastructure – the roads, airports, factories, power stations and high-speed rail lines that are destroying this world in a never-ending hunger for profit.

Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman

There is nothing new in all this, of course. This authentic anarchism, which has never entirely died out, was the anarchism of the great figures of the 19th and early 20th centuries – giants like Mikael Bakunin, Voltairine de Cleyre, Emma Goldman and Gustav Landauer.

And now today’s rebels are ready to turn their backs on the sterile libertarianised marxism that has too often been passed off as anarchism, as they embrace the power and glory of the real thing!

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2. East London Rising!

EL-Rising-banner2

A good example of this budding anarchist renaissance is the East London Rising event being staged by the Anarchist Action Network at the London Action Resource Centre (LARC), Whitechapel, from Monday August 3 to Sunday August 9.

With a whole week of free workshops and discussions on various themes, it sets out to bring together a diverse spectrum of campaigning issues, while explaining how they all form part of the one anarchist struggle.

Of particular significance, perhaps, is the Environment and Degrowth day, on Tuesday August 4, which emphasises the way that the anarchist fight against capitalism is also a fight against industrialism and ecocide.

As The Acorn went to press, this day was due to start at 2-3pm with a workshop by Luddites200 on “Thinking about technology and degrowth – a Luddite perspective.”

This is to be followed from 3 to 4pm with a presentation by Earth First! and then from 5-6pm the London Mining Network will talk on “Collective, horizontal and consensus-based: How Indigenous self-organisation has stopped international mining giants”.

From 7pm to 8pm Transition Heathrow will do a workshop on resistance, degrowth and anarchism and then from 8pm Corporate Watch will be dealing with climate change and anti-capitalism.

Also worth noting is the anti-militarism day, which is part of the build-up of resistance to the DSEI arms fair being held in East London this September.

resistance

The full week’s line-up is as follows:

Monday Aug 3 – Anti-racism, Anti-borders
Tuesday Aug 4 – Environment & degrowth
Wednesday Aug 5 – Skillshares
Thursday Aug 6 – Benefits claimants and workers rights
Friday Aug 7 – Housing struggles and anti-eviction
Saturday Aug 8 – Anti-militarism and anti-imperialism
Sunday Aug 9 – Anarchism

LARC is situated at 62 Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel, London, E1 1ES. The nearest underground stations are Whitechapel, Aldgate East and Aldgate.

https://www.anarchistaction.net/east-london-rising/

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3. Anarchism, capitalism and industry

cogs-in-a-machine

Neither anarcho-capitalism nor anarcho-industrialism make any sense because anarchism stands directly opposed to capitalism and to the industrial infrastructure on which it depends.

That is the conclusion to a recent article by anarchist writer Paul Cudenec, in which he questions whether this is always fully understood by anarchists.

In particular, he challenges the received wisdom that the only issue that need concern anarchists about industry relates to who controls it. He asks whether fracking would suddenly become acceptable if Cuadrilla was a workers’ co-op.

A detail from LS Lowry's The Canal Bridge (1949)

Cudenec adds: “I find it hard to believe that anyone’s idea of a future anarchist society could include factories of any kind. Who would be working in them if we didn’t live in a capitalist society where people desperately need to earn money to survive? Why would anyone work in a factory if they didn’t have to? In an anarchist society, what kind of social, economic or physical compulsion could be applied to make people work in factories if, as seems likely, they didn’t particularly want to?

“Why do anarcho-industrialists think that factories came into existence in the first place? To help the workers? To make life better for all of us? Because we collectively needed the mass production of the things that factories make?

“Or was it so that a small group of entrepreneurs could make profit out of them? Isn’t industrial society entirely a product of capitalism?”

The full article can be read at network23.org/paulcudenec

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4. Anarchism in chains?

Untitled

Some thought-provoking reflections on the smothered state of anarchism in the UK are contained in a controversial booklet called Anarchy – Civil or Subversive, now updated and online here.

In the introduction, the late Darko Matthers condemns “civil anarchism” as “a horizontal citizenism which speaks the language of democracy (rights, laws, social inclusion, consensus, protest).”

He adds: “Apart from maintaining democracy’s image of dialogue and permitted dissent, civil society also is a recuperating mediator and handily picks up services for the state and business, curbing some of their excesses to allow the smoother functioning of the system. Many ‘anarchist’ (or rather libertarian) activists work for NGOs, trade unions and the parasitic den of academia.

“There’s a direct feedback loop through academia, activists and the social bureaucracy about the bizarre language codes and identity politics of political correctness.”

One contributor to the booklet writes: “Civil anarchism turns on any anarchist or activist who dares reject the group-think and organise themselves outside of ‘acceptable limits’; and like all political groups, the civil anarchists tend toward homogeneity, centralisation, hierarchy, delegation and censorship, however much it is all dressed up as consensus”.

On a positive note, reflecting the new resurgence in authentic anarchism, another writer declares: “Anarchy appears to us as the life force of the planet, the creative destroyer which has never been extinguished from the pages of civilisation by the determined forces of ignorance and repression”.

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5. Terror and the capitalist system

suruc bomb

The massacre at the Amara Culture Centre in Suruç (Pîrsus), Kurdistan (within the Turkish state), last week has raised fears of a new phase in so-called “terrorism”.

At least two anarchists were killed in the bombing of the left-wing centre – they have been named as Alper Sapan from Anarchy Initiative Eskişehir and Evrim Deniz Erol from Urfa.

The attack is seen as an assault on the initiative to rebuild Kobanê after the ISIS attack last year. A report on the Rabble website reports: “Comrades in Turkey and Kurdistan say that it was done by ISIS in collusion with the Turkish state”.

It is not just Turkey that colludes with ISIS – along with other Islamist guerrilla groups, ISIS has many traceable links to Western intelligence. These have been apparent in various armed conflicts from Afghanistan to Bosnia to Algeria.

ISISpic

Author Nafeez Ahmed has been at the forefront of exposing what he described as long ago as 2006, in his important book The London Bombings, as “the covert alliance between British state interests and Islamist terrorist networks”.

He writes: “The international terrorist network implicated in the London bombings extends to a number of regions, including the Balkans, Asia and Africa (namely North and West). In all these areas militant Islamist networks have operated in collaboration with the military and intelligence institutions of Britain, the US and European countries.

“These policies and operations, many of which continue to exist today, can be linked to concerted attempts by American, British and European states to secure a variety of regional strategic and economic interests, largely related to energy concerns.”

The current wave of Islamist terrorism is often regarded as the modern equivalent of the Cold War “Gladio” network of far-right extremists controlled by US and UK intelligence.

As Ganser sets out in his book NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe, right-wing extremists including surviving Nazis and Fascists were recruited by US and British intelligence at the end of the Second World War to form an “anti-communist” terror network.

Ostensibly intended to fight any Soviet invasion of Europe, it quickly switched to countering the threat to capitalism posed by radicals, carrying out “false flag” attacks blamed on leftists and anarchists as part of a “strategy of tension” to create fear and drive the public into the “safe” hands of the capitalist state.

ganser

In Turkey, from the 1960s, there was an extreme right Turkish militia called the Grey Wolves (Bozkurt), described by author Daniele Ganser as “a brutal network of trained and armed men ready to use violence to further the cause of Pan-Turkism”.

The Grey Wolves were eventually exposed as having been part of a CIA-run secret army dedicated to protecting Western capitalist interests. One of those who spoke out was General Talat Turhan, himself involved in a coup d’etat, who later declared: “This is the secret unit of the NATO countries”.

Although the Gladio network was exposed most fully in Italy (the Bologna bombing was one of its murderous acts, for instance), it operated across Europe, including the UK, where the conflict in the north of Ireland was an ideal training ground.

The worrying lack of knowledge and understanding, even in radical circles, of the extent to which terrorism was secretly deployed by the capitalist system from the 1940s to the 1980s sadly means that there is little to stop it using the same techniques again today.

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6. Anti-terrorism is not what it says it is

anti-terrorist police

“Anti-terrorism” is not at all what it seems – it is in fact the deliberately misleading label given to a global psychological war waged against most of humanity by a controlling elite.

That is the message from an article in Guccio, a new international radical magazine.

The authors begin by stating that, despite all appearances, anti-terrorism’s main target is not the people it declares to be “terrorists”, but the population as a whole.

anti-terrorist propaganda
Fear as a means of control – anti-terrorist propaganda

 

They add: “There is no one legal definition of terrorism, and this is why there are so many definitions – more than a hundred different ones all across the world. ‘Terrorism’ is a political category.”

Essentially the label “terrorist” is an attempt to translate into legal terminology the vaguer notion of an enemy – an enemy of the system. Since the system itself designates its enemies, it also controls the definition of “terrorist”.

The idea that anti-terrorist laws are a reaction to actual “terrorist” threats is false. The authors point out: “It is known that among the 11 proposals for international anti-terrorist legislation submitted by the EU during the autumn of 2001 ‘in reaction to 9/11’, six had already been formulated before the attacks, four were already in preparation and only one, concerning asylum and immigration was actually new.

“We also know that the UK, one of the main engines behind this whole process, had already passed the Terrorism Act 2000 which, without saying so openly, was aimed at ‘subversive’ political movements, mainly the anti-globalisation movement.”

Genoa-protests2
Redefined as “terrorism” – the anti-globalisation protests in Genoa in 2001

For the Italian General Fabio Mini, after the anti-capitalist protests in Genoa in 2001 there was already no doubt that “violent contestation of the global system is equal in this case to terrorism”.

The Guccio article explains that a 2002 EU framework defines as terrorism any action likely “to severely undermine a country or an international organisation”, with the aim of “severely intimidating a population” or to “severely destabilize or destroy the fundamental political, constitutional, economic structures of a country or an international organization”.

While Margaret Thatcher had already tried to use anti-terrorist laws against striking miners in the 1980s, the practice has now become widespread.

From indignados in Barcelona to occupiers of a city hall in Greece, from the alleged authors of The Coming Insurrection in France, to environmental activists from the No Tav movement in Italy – all have been accused of “terrorism” for daring to challenge the capitalist system.

Even organisers of protests against the 2014 World Cup in Brazil were arrested under “anti-terrorist” legislation.

not-terrorists
Why do we even have to say that we are not “terrorists”?

It is not just the legal route that is used by the industrial capitalist system as part of its “anti-terrorist” war on dissent.

The article cites a paper on defeating anti-globalisation movements which suggests “disinformation and infiltration by agents provocateurs seeking to control and sabotage”.

Mark Kennedy
British police spy Mark Kennedy – infiltrated the anti-capitalist movement on a European scale

The authors comment: “If we have in mind the European scale of the infiltration carried out by British police spy Mark Kennedy, as well as the police’s strategies during some anti-summit protests, we can be certain that these few lines are not empty rhetoric, but a global policy being conducted against us. We therefore need a counter-strategy, on a scale as global as the enemy’s manoeuvres.

“It is very unfortunate that we failed to turn the scandal raised in England by the Mark Kennedy case into a European affair challenging the activities of the various police forces that resorted to his services.”

They stress this international aspect more than once, pointing out that “nowhere we have succeeded in our attempts to neutralise anti-terrorism. One of the reasons why we fail may be that we have always struggled against it at a national level, whereas it represents a global policy.

“When the enemy’s victories arise from the fact that it has a global strategy against us, whereas we do not have one against it, we have to undertake a new international strategic debate, at least European-wide, in order to be able once again to address the situation.”

They also suggest that the way we conduct our struggles can help undermine the absurd smear of “terrorism”.

“When their tactic consists in ascribing a feeling of terror to any revolutionary movement, we must make people laugh, mock our enemies, show a great deal of wit. A funny terrorist is already not a terrorist anymore.”

They say that for years now, the anti-terrorist establishment has tried to associate direct action against the system with a feeling of fear, whereas the feeling for those on the streets is one of liberation: “It is crucial to break this spell… spark complicity. Bind together once again the idea of revolution with the idea of increasing power, of joy.”

june18
The joy of protesting – the Carnival Against Capital in London on June 18 1999

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7. UK anarchists pull off cheeky repeat factory occupation

elbitjuly6
The Kent occupation on July 6 2015

Activists from the Anarchist Action Network formed part of the second rooftop occupation of an Israeli factory in Kent on Monday July 6.

This marked the anniversary of the 2014 attack on Gaza and coincided with the Block the Factory protest in Shenstone, in the Midlands.

Alongside Palestine solidarity campaigners and other anti-militarist comrades, the AAN participants launched an early-morning assault on Instro, a fully-owned subsidiary of drone manufacturer Elbit, which makes optical guidance components.

The compound and roof were both taken by 4am, with a sound system on the ground inside, a lock-on to the main gate and other protesters remaining outside the premises on the Broadstairs industrial estate.

Police turned up, initially in large numbers, and at one point were spotted trying to climb on to the roof from the back of the building – however, their ladder was not long enough and they retreated!

The factory was closed for the whole day and the occupation crew exited the premises under their own steam after a 12-hour stint.

The same factory was previously occupied, again with AAN involvement, in February this year. No arrests were made on either occasion. (See “What is Elbit scared of?” in Acorn 3)

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8. Anti-road resistance in Rize

turkroad1

The Turkish state sent in military police to attack local people in the Black Sea province of Rize who had formed a human chain to halt road-building bulldozers.

Fierce resistance to the ecocidal industrialist project broke out in Rize’s Çamlıhemşin district where locals opposed the connection of Yukarı Kavun and Samistal pastures, fearing that the new road would push housing and industry into the untouched nature of the region.

Havva Bekar, one of the most senior members of the group, has become a social media phenomenon. In a video shared by thousands of social media users on July 11, Bekar was heard rebuking security forces at the construction site with a stick in her hand.

“We don’t want this road. We are the people. Who is the state? The state is a state thanks to us,” she said.

Infrastructure projects threatening Turkey’s Black Sea region have become a source of growing conflict between the capitalist Turkish state and the population.

Most recently on July 9, tension rose between gendarmerie forces and locals in Artvin, with local activists trying to prevent untouched forest in the region from being cleared for new mining facilities.

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9. Acorninfo

Activists from Plane Stupid staged a dramatic lock-on protest at Heathrow on Monday July 13 in opposition to a third runway there – and to any other airport expansion. One of them told The Independent that they had a direct message to the Government and the aviation industry: “We want to be clear that the anti-airport expansion movement is back and we’re here to stay. ‘No, ifs, no buts, no third runway’. We mean it.”

heathrow protest

* * *

“A polite knock on the door of a Mr John Shaw of Hastings got Emily Johns a visit from the police. How so? He’s the CEO of a secretive ‘non-profit company’ that’s using tens of millions of pounds of public funds to build white elephant business parks and destroy valuable nature sites. And avoiding accountability looks like a major point of the exercise.” An article exposing the activities of SeaChange in Sussex, UK, (see Acorn 8) has been published by The Ecologist. Worth a read.

SeaChange logo

* * *

Prison abolition is on the agenda at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, on the evening of Monday July 27. From 7pm Sussex Anarchists will be hosting a workshop from the Open Cages Collective, calling for anarchist resistance to prisons and in particular the new super-prison to be built at Wrexham.

Layout 1

* * *

Online dissent is being systematically sabotaged by a special intelligence unit run by the British state, an article has revealed. Documents published by The Intercept demonstrate how the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), a unit of the signals intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), is involved in efforts against political groups it considers “extremist”. The spooks’ work includes creating fake online identities to promote state and corporate agendas and disrupting “extremist” websites and emails. The full report can be read here.

propaganda-ministry

* * *

A robot killed a young man at one of Volkswagen’s production plants in Germany on Monday June 29, the firm has admitted. The machine grabbed the 22 year old and crushed him against a metal plate. A spokesman blamed “human error” – yes indeed, human error in creating robots in the first place!

robottkiller

* * *

“Why we hate the police” is the title of an anonymous online leaflet from France. It reads, in part: “We hate the police because there will soon no longer be a single move we can make, a single road we can walk down, the smallest corner of our existences in which we can escape from their surveillance and their punishment. We hate the police because we hate control. We hate the police because a good cop is always more dangerous than a bad one. Because the police are the last bulwark stopping this rotting society from collapsing. Because they are the armed wing of the thing that is slowly and surely killing us. Because the police will always be an obstacle between the life we have and the life we want…”

why we hate police

* * *

Acorn quote: “The same era that saw the English peasant expropriated from his common lands saw the Bengal peasant made a parasite in his own country”. Edward J. Thompson, The Life of Charles, Lord Metcalfe.

british_india

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

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Follow Winter Oak on Twitter at @WinterOakPress

 

 

The Acorn – 4

acornmastheadnew

Number 4


In this issue:

  1. Profit before the planet: a special investigation into sham “sustainability”
  2. Europeans unite against ruling elite
  3. Learning from the Syriza sell-out
  4. Fracking – resistance and repression
  5. Motor threat to Welsh valleys
  6. Acorninfo

1. Profit before the planet: a special investigation into sham “sustainability”

coastcapitalism

“Sustainable transport” funding in southern England is just another way of boosting business profits, an investigation by The Acorn can reveal.

The funding agency in question has stated that schemes do not have to be sustainable or even have to have anything to do with transport at all – they just have to contribute to “economic growth”.

Meanwhile, unchecked traffic congestion is used to justify yet more environment-wrecking road schemes, as we revealed in Acorn 1.

And the whole public-private apparatus behind the scandal is riddled with connections not just to global big business but even to the military and the arms trade.

Our investigation involves West Sussex County Council (WSCC) and Coast to Capital, the regional Local Enterprise Partnership covering a swathe of southern England stretching from Croydon and Gatwick Airport to Brighton and Chichester.

Print

WSCC is trying to get hold of some of the £31 million allocated by the Government to Coast to Capital, supposedly to fund sustainable transport schemes, and is promoting something it calls the “Worthing Sustainable Transport Package”. Phase one of this is costed at £1.2 million and WSCC is bidding for £800,000 of that from Coast to Capital.

But when local cycling and environmental campaigners took a closer look at the details of the scheme, they were astonished to discover that it was all about repaving the main Worthing shopping street, Montague Street, and knocking down a rotunda, known to residents as the bandstand.

One campaigner told The Acorn: “There is no way anyone can say that re-paving Montague Street in Worthing has anything to do with benefiting sustainable transport, when, in fact, the town is desperate for some cycleways and other sustainable transport to ease chronic motor traffic congestion.

“Councils are spending ‘sustainable transport’ money on ‘sustainable transport’ schemes that are nothing of the sort.”

Shoppers in Montague Street, Worthing
Shoppers in Montague Street, Worthing

It is indeed immediately striking how little the “Worthing Sustainable Transport Package” has to do with sustainable transport – it is blatantly just a make-over for the commercial part of Worthing town centre.

The “why it should be funded” section of the application admits that the main thrust of its pitch is that “it will attract more people to shop in the area”. This will result in “long term economic growth reversing the current decline in footfall and turnover”. It will “create jobs”, help Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership meet its economic growth targets and potentially lead to £17.7 million a year more income for businesses.

Other “benefits” of the scheme are that the works will put £2.3 million into the pockets of the construction industry and eventually push up shop rental values and thus business rates.

There is also the bonus of extra “generation of government revenues” from “taxes on business profits, employees’ wages, and profits from rental income”.

And the cherry on the cake is that “residential properties are likely to increase in value by 5.2% within the town centre”. What marvellous news for Sussex people finding it difficult to afford somewhere to live!

Amidst all of this there is no indication of how the scheme might be expected to reduce traffic or make transport “sustainable” in any way, reducing demand for new roads like the threatened Arundel bypass-bypass or the mooted Worthing A27 “improvements”.

As the local campaigner told us: “The bid document itself does not mention any beneficial impacts on journey times or reliability, and it is difficult to envisage any.” Referring to the suggested increase of 1.6 million new visits to Montague Street each year, he asked: “How are those additional people expected to travel to and from Montague Street without causing a significant increase in local traffic?”

Coast to Capitalism

But hold on a minute – a bid for sustainable transport funding that makes no mention of sustainable transport? Is that even allowed?

The local campaigners stumbled across what looks like a blatant give-away when they were examining the Coast to Capital website for details of its criteria.

Astonishingly, the section about schemes that could be funded under transport “sustainability” or “resilience” admitted: “They may also include improvements which do not affect transport, but which will help to protect or stimulate economic growth”.

No sooner had this remarkable sentence been drawn to the attention of Coast to Capital, than it suddenly disappeared from the website! Luckily, campaigners were shrewd enough to have taken a screenshot, part of which is reproduced here.

Missing sentence

In fact, it should come as no surprise that “economic growth” should prove to be the sole preoccupation of Coast to Capital.

The masthead of its website proclaims that its focus is “to create economic growth in an innovative, enterprising and international business environment” and the term repeats ad nauseam in the overview of its aims.

coast to capital mast

“Our small yet dynamic team is focused on delivering growth”… “Our focus is on those areas where we can stimulate growth” … “delivering activities to drive growth” … “our role is to help re-balance the economy and to promote private sector growth” … “ensuring that the infrastructure and conditions for economic growth are in place”.

It adds: “Coast to Capital is not a delivery organisation and we do not take on the direct delivery of business support services. However, in order to create favourable conditions for growth, we do identify priorities and strategies for improving local transport, housing and skills development.”

This line pretty much confirms the gist of the deleted give-away sentence – all Coast to Capital’s strategies on transport, housing or whatever are, by its own admission, only carried out “in order to create favourable conditions for growth”.

If we go back through its self-description and replace the word “growth” with a term that describes what it really means – “profit” or “greed” come to mind – then we begin to understand the agenda that lies behind Coast to Capital.

Decision, decisions… interests and allegiances

If all this isn’t disturbing enough, let’s now take a look at how the decision will be made about the allocation of so-called “sustainable transport” funding…

Coast to Capital reveals that the “the business cases for each scheme are currently being assessed by independent transport advisors. Parsons Brinckerhoff are assessing the sustainability schemes.”

Parsons Brinckerhoff is a massive multinational engineering corporation, employing some 14,000 staff – in 2013, the company was named the tenth largest US-based engineering/design firm by Engineering News Record. It used to be owned by Balfour Beatty, but on October 31, 2014, it became a wholly owned independent subsidiary of WSP Global, an even more massive multinational corporation based in Canada.

wsp parsons

WSP Global Inc is currently involved in projects like the rebuilding of the World Trade Center in New York, USA, and Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport in Germany. Past triumphs from these experts in sustainability include The Shard in London, Beetham Tower in Manchester, City Central Development in Adelaide, Australia, Mellon Bank Center in Philadelphia, Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, and Trump Tower in New York.

shard
The Shard in London: a WSP Global Inc project

 

Terminal_de_l'aéroport_international_de_Bangkok
Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok: another WSP Global Inc project

The deliberation of these “independent” transport advisors will no doubt be watched with dispassionate interest by Martin Heffer, the Coast to Capital board member focusing on infrastructure issues.

Well, not that dispassionate, as his register of interests reveals that Parsons Brinckerhoff (now aka WSP Global Inc) is in fact his employer!

Heffer, a “specialist in the planning and delivery of major transport schemes”, is apparently “currently on secondment to the Department for Transport”.

His commitment to sustainable transport involves working on the High Speed 2 rail project, Heathrow Terminal 5 and the widening of the M25 motorway ahead of the Olympics.

And Heffer’s fine ethical record does not stop there! He is also a reserve army officer, having been a Royal Engineers volunteer officer for some 30 years. “He is a specialist in the area of Civil Military co-operation having worked on joint Foreign Office and UK military infrastructure initiatives in Iraq,” boasts Coast to Capital.

Martin Heffer: developing capitalist infrastructure from Iraq to the M25
Martin Heffer: developing capitalist infrastructure from Iraq to the M25

What a splendid example of the seamless interweaving of state, capitalism and war-mongering neo-colonialism!

If this is all beginning to sound like a bit of a stitch-up, don’t worry – when the decisions about funding are made, probably on March 25 2015, they will not be made by Heffer or the board, but by what Coast to Capital calls a “voluntary partnership known as
the Local Transport Body”.

Closer examination reveals that this wholesome-sounding group is chaired by none other than Pieter Montyn. Montyn shares Heffer’s commitment to ethics and sustainability, with a lifetime spent in the higher echelons of the global arms trade – “37 years in the UK aircraft and defence equipment industry (British Aerospace/BAE Systems and GEC), in which he held senior export management positions at home and overseas”.

Montyncoll
Pieter Montyn: from BAE to West Sussex County Council

He will presumably have to step aside from his role chairing the Local Transport Body when the funding bid for Worthing is actually discussed, as he also happens to be cabinet member for highways and transport at West Sussex County Council, the very organisation promoting the application!

As the leading force behind the “A27 Action” campaign calling for the bypass of the Arundel bypass and other road-building schemes (see Acorn 1), WSCC appears to be concerned by the increase in motor traffic – its pro-road-building website declares: “The A27 is a congested route which is inhibiting business investment and growth.”

Funny, then, that that very same West Sussex County Council is promoting the “Worthing Sustainable Transport Package”, rather than a scheme that would help address the congestion issue by providing cycle lanes, cheaper public transport etc?

Not really! After all, think of all the plus-boxes that are ticked by the prospect of new motorways being ploughed through the woods and wetlands of Sussex! More and more traffic, more concrete, more contracts for the construction industry – the warped greed-god of economic growth, worshipped by Coast to Capital, West Sussex County Council and all their business partners, will demand the unchecked expansion of its capitalist infrastructure right up until the very day it has triumphantly choked the last drop of life out of this planet.

See also:

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2. Europeans unite against ruling elite

venezia
Anti-capitalist protesters in Italy get in the mood for March 18 in Frankfurt

Anti-capitalist protesters from across Europe are gearing up for big protests against the European Central Bank (ECB).

As we reported in Acorn 2, they are converging on Frankfurt in Germany on Wednesday March 18 to gatecrash the opening party of the new HQ.

“See you on the barricades!” was the message from the activists pictured above in Venice, Italy, who were part of a day of anti-bank actions on March 2.

And a similar message of defiance comes across on this video call-out from destroika. Says the group’s website: “It is necessary to transpose our experiences of local struggle to a higher offensive level, beyond the national frame of reference inherent to the movement, in order to sandwich the State on the European level as well. The opening of the new headquarters of the European Central Bank will be the occasion for us to reconverge, to unite our forces against a common enemy.”

The Blockupy call-out says: “As the crisis has unfolded the EU has became more and more of an authoritarian regime with an obvious lack of democratic participation. The murderous border controls and the progressing militarization of foreign policy add to this process. They cannot, and even do not want to, represent us anymore. The ruling elites have nothing left of value to offer for us.

“But new forces are emerging from all corners of life and it will be our task to build solidarity and real democracy from below. They want capitalism without democracy, but we want democracy without capitalism!”

German authorities are showing signs of panic over the impact of the protests, with one regional minister, Peter Beuth, describing them as a huge challenge” for the security forces. Everyone had the right to “peacefully” protest against globalization, butrioters” were not welcome in Frankfurt on March 18 the minister told the Hesse Landtag (regional Parliament).

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3. Learning from the Syriza sell-out

syriza
Syriza – selling out to neoliberal capitalism

As soon as the leftists of Syriza came into power in Greece, anarchist voices were warning that things were not necessarily as they seemed.

Crimethinc, for example, published a thoughtful in-depth analysis called Syriza Can’t Save Greece: Why There’s No Electoral Exit from the Crisis.

Here it bracketed Syriza with other “radical” electoral forces such as Podemos in Spain, Die Linke in Germany, Parti de Gauche in France, Radnička fronta in Croatia, Združena levica in Slovenia, and Bloco de Esquerda in Portugal.

Warned the article: “At this historical juncture, all of them serve the same basic function. Faced with so much unrest, the ruling order suddenly has a use for new radical political parties that promise to embody calls for ‘real democracy’ within the existing system.

“Whatever the intentions of the participants, their structural role is to rebuild trust in electoral democracy, neutralize uncontrollable extra-parliamentary movements, and reestablish capitalism and the state as the only imaginable social order.

“When they enter the halls of power, they commit themselves to perpetuating the authoritarian institutions and unequal distribution of wealth that triggered the movements from which they appeared in the first place.”

DieLinke
Electoral movements like Die Linke are useful for the capitalist system, warns Crimethinc

It was not long before Crimethinc’s warning was proved correct. In an article posted on the Aljazeera website on March 3, C J Polychroniou, a research associate and policy fellow at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, wrote: “It has taken the Syriza government less than a month to surrender to neoliberal Europe and Greece’s international lenders.”

Noting that in recent talks “the Syriza-led government accepted an extension of the bailout programme and capitulated in turn to Germany’s demands for austerity and neoliberal reforms”, he added: “One would be hard pressed to find in the annals of political history another case where a governing party has broken its word so quickly on its pre-election promises and accepted an ultimate defeat in the face of systemic opposition.“

Polychroniou fears that “Syriza’s capitulation will create a mood of defeatism among progressive forces across Europe”.

But, on the other hand, it might serve to underline the anarchist warning that attempts to reform the capitalist system will only end up reinforcing it – the whole thing has to go.

"Still our last, best hope" says Crimethinc.
“Still our last, best hope” says Crimethinc.

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4. Fracking – resistance and repression

Algerian anti-fracking2
Resisting the fracking industry in In-Salah, Algeria

Resistance to fracking continues to grow all over the world. On Sunday March 1 anti-fracking protesters in In-Salah, Algeria, torched the local daïra (government office) and the home of its boss, as well as part of a police dormitory and a police lorry. Forty cops were apparently injured.

Protests have been growing since the end of December when the Algerian firm Sonatrach, in partnership with Halliburton, announced its first test for shale gas in this part of the Sahara had been a success. In February it insisted that fracking would go ahead despite evident hostility from a local population daring to stand in the way of economic growth. Algeria has the world’s fourth biggest reserves of shale gas, after the USA, China and Argentina.

Anti-fracking protesters in In-Salah, Algeria
Anti-fracking protesters in In-Salah, Algeria

In Britain, the authorities continue to explore ways of stemming the anti-fracking revolt. One is to have subtly redefined fracking in the notorious new Infrastructure Act.

Explains DeSmogBlog: “By defining fracking as one specific phase in the entire process, it means that any environmental impacts that do occur must be proven to be associated with that specific phase in order to claim that the industry definition of fracking has caused that impact.”

So when the industry claims that “no proven instances of water contamination have occurred due to hydraulic fracturing” it is using the its own definition of hydraulic fracturing, now shared by the state, “which excludes incidents from drilling damage, failed well casings, spills, erosion and sediment, or tanker accidents”.

The other approach, of course, is to use the legal system to attack opponents of the fracking industry.

On Thursday March 5 Dr Rowland Dye was convicted of “aggravated trespass” in the office of the Chamber of Commerce in Blackpool, also home to fracking firm Cuadrilla, during Reclaim the Power protests last August. The district judge not only fined him £250 and ordered him to £500 costs and £25 victims’ surcharge, but also ordered him to pay £551.83 compensation to the Chamber, on the flimsy basis that it “had cancel an event the day after the protest” – when the protesters had long since left. More than £1,300 for an office occupation in which nothing was damaged (let alone set on fire, Algerian-style!).

The protest in Blackpool in August 2014
The protest in Blackpool in August 2014

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber Of Commerce, revealed the political motives behind the prosecution and punishment by telling media: “This decision sends out a clear message that if protestors break the law they will be punished. It sets the precedence for our local business community who can now be assured that fracking occupancy is illegal and not welcome in Lancashire”.

And on the same day anti-fracking campaigner and journalist Paul Mobbs was arrested at the entrance to Downing Street in London. He was trying to make a citizen’s arrest of members of the government because he believes they are guilty of misconduct in public office in the way they have dealt with fracking. At about 3pm, Mr Mobbs was asked to leave the Downing Street area. When he refused and said he would try to climb over the gate he was arrested for breaching a traffic management order under the laughably-named Terrorism Act.

Mr Mobbs has updated his frackogram showing links involving the fracking industry. Meanwhile, Drill or Drop has produced an invaluable and comprehensive update on drilling, permissions, companies and consultations across the UK, including of course the Celtique site near Billingshurst, West Sussex, featured in Acorn 2.

Bill-fence3
The fracking site near Billingshurst, West Sussex, featured in Issue 2 of The Acorn

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5. Motor threat to Welsh valleys

Circuit of Wales
The proposed new “infrastructure” for the Welsh countryside

A public enquiry opens on Tuesday March 10 into a hideous assault on common land in the Welsh countryside in the name of “infrastructure”.

The Open Spaces Society explain that two years ago they objected to plans for the Circuit of Wales motor-sports development just north of Ebbw Vale in south Wales. “At that time the developer, the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, stated optimistically and inaccurately on its website that ‘planning permission is the final hurdle’.

“Although the development now has planning permission it has not yet gone ahead—because it would take common land.  There are many who claim that the objectors are holding up a development which will bring jobs and prosperity to the area.  Their ire should be directed at the developers who opted to site the motor circuit on a common.

“For the applicant has had to find land to offer in exchange for the 245 hectares (nearly one square mile) of open moorland which would be submerged under concrete, and to make an application to Welsh ministers for the exchange, under section 16 of the Commons Act 2006.”

The development website boasts: “Circuit of Wales will transform 830 acres of Blaenau Gwent in the scenic Welsh valleys on an unparalleled scale, and will shine the global spotlight on the region. The innovative scheme will wholly regenerate the area, providing unrivalled opportunities in job creation, tourism, and research and development.”

It says the scheme is “the most significant capital investment programme in automotive infrastructure in the UK in the last 50 years”.

Here we have all the assumptions of the capitalist “growth” mindset. It beggars belief that the “transformation” of countryside into a motor racing track can be seen in a positive light! Does the region want the “global spotlight” shone on it? What does it mean to “wholly regenerate” an area? Is “job creation” always a good thing, even if the jobs perform no useful function, and indeed a harmful one?

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6. Acorninfo

Thursday March 12 has been named by land activists as the date of the final eviction efforts at Yorkley Court in the Forest of Dean. As we reported in Acorn 3, for the last two and a half years residents have been trying to establish a sustainable community farm. But on February 26 a local millionaire property developer Brian Bennett won his court case for possession. A call-out has now been made for supporters to come and show their solidarity on the day.

Yorkley-New

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Following the report in Acorn 3, the fascists of the EDL have apparently changed their minds about trying to march through Brighton on April 18. Local rag The Argus says the far-right hate-mongers are now planning to head for Oxford on April 4 instead. Observes the anti-fascist EDL News: “The group have stated the demo in Brighton has been postponed but we suspect it will not get rearranged due to the fact that many of their members have stated that the idea was pretty stupid in the first place.”

brightonantifascists

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A new book of eco-poetry has been published by Permanent Publications. Ecozoa by Helen Moore calls for a new era “in great contrast to the ravages caused by the growth and impacts of industrial civilisation on our planetary ecosystems”. Moore’s work is strongly inspired by William Blake and, reviewing the latest collection, Paul Cudenec comments: “By placing herself in a direct line of ideological descent from Blake, Moore is doing more than expressing admiration for him. She is proclaiming herself as a contemporary manifestation of that same underground heretical tradition”. The full review can be read here.

ecozoa

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An annual celebration of Spring and “the renewal of life on the Downs” is once again been staged by Sussex environmental and land access group the  Worthing Downlanders. They are inviting local musicians, singers, poets and merry-makers to join them on Sunday March 22 2015 from 2pm at The Castle Tavern, 1 Newland Road, Worthing, West Sussex BN11 1JR. “Everyone is welcome to participate, or you can just turn up and watch the festivities with a glass in hand!” Entry is free. Contact: info@worthingdownlanders.org.uk

Castle Tavern Worthing
Castle Tavern, Worthing

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Members of The Invisible Committee, the radical French writing collective behind The Coming Insurrection, will be in the UK on Saturday March 21, for a talk about their new book, A nos amis. The event, hosted by Sussex Anarchists, is at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, at 6pm.

anosamis

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Acorn quote: “Progress, what you call progress, this incessant hustle-bustle, this rapid tiring and neurasthenic, short-breathed chase after novelty, after anything new as long as it is new, this progress and the crazy ideas of the practitioners of development associated with it… this progress, this unsteady, restless haste; this inability to remain still and this perpetual desire to be on the move, this so-called progress is a symptom of our abnormal condition, our unculture”. Gustav Landauer, For Socialism.

Gustav Landauer
Gustav Landauer

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