The Acorn – 55

acorn 2019bNumber 55

In this issue:

  1. Future on fire!
  2. When the state means business
  3. New Deal for Profits
  4. Jailed for exposing US war crimes
  5. Guy Debord: an orgrad inspiration
  6. Acorninfo

1.  Future on fire!

bank of england riot cops
Riot cops protect the Bank of England from anti-capitalists.

Green anti-capitalists are to target the financial heart of the City of London on Friday February 28.

A Rally Against Capital (Fuck the Banks, Fuck the City!) has been announced for 2pm outside the Bank of England in Threadneedle Street as part of the week of action mentioned in Acorn 54.

The activists have already notched up a notable success, by occupying a former police station in Paddington Green.

GAF squat

Said a statement from the Green Anticapitalist Front: “The future of the planet is under attack. We are living through the willful destruction of Earth’s ecosystems and the billions of people who depend on them to survive.

“We know what is causing this destruction – the capitalist system we live in and the people who get disgustingly rich while knowing that they are only able to do so by destroying the future for everybody.

“Currently they ignore the plight of the global south while stealing resources to pad their pockets all the same; it’s about time we said no more. No more exploitation. No more capitalism. No more climate change!

“Join us on the 28th of February at 2pm in the City of London to tell the bankers, the rich, the powerful that we won’t let them take our planet – the people will not go down without a fight and we’re taking the fight to them to show them what we can do when we organise ourselves”.

Blackrock1

GAF were quick to express their solidarity with anti-capitalist comrades in Paris who carried out a powerful action on Monday February 10.

They invaded and occupied the French HQ of BlackRock, Inc. an American global investment management corporation.

The radical environmental activists, along with some Gilets Jaunes and other individuals, poured into the business’s premises in the French capital – see this video.

They managed to take the police by surprise and barricaded themselves in the building for the whole morning.

blackrock3

This infamous multinational corporation, very close to President Emmanuel Macron, makes billions in profits on privatised pensions.

Coincidentally, of course, Macron’s neoliberal regime is pushing through controversial pension “reforms” in the face of massive opposition (see Acorn 54).

BlackRock’s premises were redecorated with an assortment of graffiti, and some “trophies” awarded to BlackRock went out with the rubbish.

As they tried to make their escape before heavily armed state units reached the building, the environmental activists were surrounded by dozens of CRS riot cops.

Blackrock2

The youth climate militants (only distantly related to the UK’s law-abiding mainstream climate scene) were celebrating the birthday of their movement.

blackrock5Said a statement from Désobéissance Écolo Paris: “We are therefore inaugurating a new cycle of friendly visits to our beloved ’policy-makers’, by organising an ’open day’ in the offices of the BlackRock corporation, known for its financial ties with Vinci, Total, BNP, and Société Générale.

“Obviously the choice of this corporation is a nod to our friends fighting against Macron’s pension reform, who know that BlackRock insisted on the French government to make this reform”.

“Liberal environmentalism – a lie of capital” read one piece of graffiti inside the business’s HQ. “Corrupt system”, someone had added.

blackrock4

“BlackRock murderers” and “Burn BlackRock. Save a dolphin”, recommended others.

And, expressing a prophecy of life-affirming insurrection against the impending industrial capitalist doom – “Future on fire”.

GJ feu

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2.  When the state means business

Mussolini_visiting_Fiat,_1932

“The world nowadays teems with people who have fits of enthusiasm whenever they hear of state intervention, planned economy, five-year plans, and the end of laissez-faire.

“They do not care to ask who are the social groups in whose interests the state, ie. bureaucracy and the party in power, is to intervene and plan.

“Yet the first question which should be asked when invoking the end of laissez-faire is precisely this: in the interests of whom should such abolition take place?” (1)

Gaetano Salvemini
Gaetano Salvemini

When Gaetano Salvemini wrote these words, he wasn’t referring to the 2020s, but he might as well have been.

There are plenty of anti-capitalist comrades out there, who, even when they oppose the limited content of a Green New Deal or a New Deal for Nature, are tempted to give such schemes the benefit of the doubt in that they appear to be a step in the right direction, away from the unchecked market forces of “laissez-faire” capitalism.

But, as Salvemini points out, we need to look carefully at who exactly is pushing these ecnomic plans and whose interests they are designed to serve.

Here, the hard work has already been done for us by investigative journalist Cory Morningstar and other writers featured on our Climate Capitalists page of links.

The briefest dip beneath the fake green surface of this contemporary political pond reveals it to be less a source of environmental and social hope than a rancid cesspit of private interests (see also article below).

We find ourselves deep within a massive global network of organisations and initiatives with names like the World Resources Institute, The B-Team, We Mean Business, Tomorrow’s Capitalism, The Natural Capital Coalition and Corporate Impact X.

XR-corporateventure

Here we can have the pleasure of meeting a former CEO of Unilever, the daughter of a CIA-backed Latin American president, the powerful founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum or a Silicon Valley billionaire hoping to get even richer through a “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

In this strange upside-down world, in which Big Business is going to “save the planet”, we come across brave “solo” campaigners supported and promoted every inch of the way by international PR professionals, youth movements described as “grassroots” which are in fact funded and steered from above, high-profile activist “rebellions” cheered on by venture capitalists.

We hear talk of “exponential opportunities“, “the investment of trillions of dollars“, and a “transformation unlike anything humankind has experienced before... a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres”.

In short, as Morningstar explains, the so-called Green New Deal is being promoted “as the catalyst to unlock the 100 trillion dollars required to unleash the ‘fourth industrial revolution’. This project, of unparalleled magnitude, is the vehicle to save the failing global capitalist economic system and bring in the financialization of nature”.

bankersinflorenceHaving found the answer to the question recommended by Salvemini, we might reflect that it is not exactly surprising to find capitalism manoeuvring to incite state support for its money-making activities.

It was in 1469 that the banker Lorenzo Medici observed: “Things can go badly for the rich if they don’t run the state”.

It is a big mistake to fall for the capitalist lie that their world of “market forces” somehow operates independently of the existence of states.

We perhaps might expect that naivety from advocates of the oxymoronic absurdity known as “anarcho-capitalism”, but it is strange to witness anti-capitalists likewise imagining that the involvement of state machineries in capitalist activities will inevitably act as some kind of brake on profiteering.

Capitalism has always depended on the existence of a state in order to impose and enforce its domination. Indeed, we would argue that the state only exists in the first place as a tool of the wealthy elite.

Its role has always been to rubber-stamp, with its self-proclaimed “authority”, the theft from the majority carried out by a greedy and self-interested minority.

It is the state that announces that “property” is sacred and lawful and that any attempt to take it back amounts to “crime”.

It is the state that physically protects the property and wealth of the rich by employing gangs of thugs to intimidate, attack or imprison anyone who threatens to confiscate it, by whatever means.

It is the state that legitimises and enforces the expulsion of people from their land, that cuts them off from subsistence, from communal autonomy, and forces them into the waiting jaws of capitalist wage slavery.

highland clearances
The Highland Clearances

It is the state that raises armies and navies to conquer foreign lands so that its capitalists can plunder , cheat and exploit still further afield.

It is the state that taxes the population, ostensibly in “our” interest, only to divert vast amounts of collective wealth into the pockets of capitalists, whether via their highly lucrative construction schemes (needed for “our” infrastructure), via their profitable arms dealing (needed for “our” defence) or, today, via their pseudo-green technologies (needed to save “our” planet).

When state and capital work together in a more visible way, as with the planned “Green New Deal” and “New Deal for Nature”, this does not mean that capitalism is on the retreat.

It just means that, in order to get through a period of crisis, capitalists are, once again, pretending that their interests are “our” interests, that we are all facing an “emergency situation”, that “our” future is at risk and that, therefore, trillions of dollars of public money should be stuffed, by the state, into the pockets of our capitalist saviours.

Gaetano Salvemini book Those who persist in seeing a state-intervention version of capitalism as necessarily a step in the right direction, would do well to heed Salvemini’s study of one particular “limited planned economy deferential to capitalism”, (2) which just happened to be the Fascist regime in Italy.

He wrote: “Italy has never seen anything similar to the type of planning exhibited by the government of Soviet Russia. When an important branch of the banking system, or a large-scale industry which could be confused with ‘the higher interests of the nation’, has threatened to collapse, the government has stepped into the breach and prevented the breakdown by emergency measures.

“The policies of the Italian dictatorship during these years of world crisis have been no different in their aims, methods, and results from the policies of all the governments of the capitalistic countries. The Charter of Labour says that private enterprise is responsible to the state. In actual fact, it is the state, i.e. the taxpayer, who has become responsible to private enterprise. When the depression came, the government added the loss to the taxpayer’s burden. Profit is private and individual. Loss is public and social”.

Salvemini summed up the overall impact of Fascist state intervention in the dealings of “laissez-faire” capitalism, by concluding: “The intervention of government has invariably favoured big business”. (3)

Why would we expect things to be any different today?

Mussolini rally
“All hail to the Green New Deal!”

1. Gaetano Salvemini, Under the Axe of Fascism (New York: Howard Fertig, 1969), p. 379, cit. Ishay Landa, The Apprentice’s Sorcerer: Liberal Tradition and Fascism (Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2012), p. 73.

2. Landa, p. 73.

3. Salvemini, pp. 379-80, cit. Landa, p. 73.

See also: Neoliberalism is the new fascism

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3. New Deal for Profits

dollar image

Following our report in Acorn 54 on the launch of the No Deal for Nature campaign (which has websites here and here), some people have asked us to explain what exactly the New Deal for Nature is and what is bad about it.

new deal for nature and people logoIn response, we suggest that these readers take part in a little experiment.

Search for “New Deal for Nature” on the internet as a whole, Twitter or wherever you fancy.

When you find a website promoting the idea, note who is behind it, what language they use in describing the plan, what other sites they link to, where they get their funding from, who they list as their “partners”.

Follow their links and perform the same exercise with every organisation you come across.

It won’t be long before you have found out – for yourself! – that the New Deal for Nature is an entirely corporate phenomenon, which uses the language of “sustainablity” to promote a 21st century version of the state-backed capitalism historically favoured by the Fascist and Nazi regimes.

We’ll show you what we mean. We found the “New Deal for Nature and People” Twitter account and discovered that this links directly to the WWF website.

This, in itself, should be enough to turn you against the New Deal for Nature, if you have been paying sufficient attention.

As Brussels-based academic Frédéric Leroy has explained: “Geneva-based WWF Intl has received millions of dollars from its links with governments & business. Global corporations such as Coca-Cola, Shell, Monsanto, HSBC, Cargill, BP, Alcoa & Marine Harvest have all benefited from the group’s green image”.

WWF corporate links

We reported in Acorn 54: “The WWF is an extremely dubious organisation, as the excellent documentary video Silence of the Pandas reveals.

“Alongside their sterling work throwing indigenous people off their land on behalf of their big business friends – under the false green flag of ‘conservation’ of course! – the WWF are very prominent in the climate capitalist lobby calling for a New Deal for Nature.

“The WWF was one of the founders of the Business for Nature lobby, as Cory Morningstar has set out.

“One of the many big corporations to which the WWF is close is Unilever, the massive transnational consumer goods company.

unilever

“Paul Polman, former Unilever CEO, was one of the ‘XR business leaders’ who signed their support for Extinction Rebellion last year“.

For more information on WWF, we recommend the Boycott WWF Twitter account and the excellent work of Survival International.

But let’s not stop there. Let’s follow the links down to one particular area of The New Deal for Nature – food.

We learn that the New Deal will “enable us to provide enough food and water for a global population that will grow to nine billion people in coming decades”.

Adds the WWF, on behalf of the New Deal for Nature lobby: “In particular, we support consumption of independently verified (credibly certified) sustainably produced food”.

To this end it says is working “with a variety of stakeholders”. Stakeholders, eh? Now who could that possibly be?

knorr food report

The link below this statement reveals all, taking us to the “Future 50 Foods” report, jointly produced by the WWF and Knorr, the dehydrated food brand owned by WWF’s bestest friend, Unilever.

Game over? Point proved? No, let’s dig little further yet by having a look at the list of acknowledgements at the end of this charming brochure.

knorr3
Entirely Knatural

This says that “the creation of this report” was led by Dorothy Shaver of Unilever and that it “ultimately reflects the views of Knorr, WWF and Adam Drewnowski”.

Drewnowski is a trustee of the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) which, according to a study reported in The Guardian in June 2019, is “an industry lobby group that masquerades as a scientific health charity” and is “used by corporate backers to counter public health policies”. Surely not?

Others involved include:

* Crops for The Future, which researches “Biotechnology and Crop Genetics”.

* EAT Foundation, the “science-based global platform for food system transformation” which, Gaetano Salvemini would have been interested to hear (see above), aims to “influence and align political and business action”.

* Edelman, the giant US PR and marketing consultancy firm which boasts: “We develop powerful ideas and tell magnetic stories that move at the speed of news, make an immediate impact, transform culture and spark movements”. One of these “powerful ideas”, is that “the way forward is for government to revitalize its role as an essential partner to business”. Of course – what else are governments for?

knorr1* The Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU), whose aim is “growing better business” and declares: “We believe business has a critical role to play in achieving the outcomes for climate, biodiversity, public health and prosperous livelihoods that the world needs”. Prosperous livelihoods, eh?

* FReSH (Food Reform for Sustainability and Health) which is “one of the key initiatives of World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s effort to create a set of business solutions to drive the transformation of the food system”. Not just any old “solutions”, note, but business solutions!

* The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), which was created by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and also gets funding from the likes of the Rockefeller Foundation, US Aid, BASF (the chemicals firm which produced Zyklon B for the Nazi gas chambers), and… oh! Unilever again!

Zyklon B
Mmmm… Nutritious!

* Gro Intelligence, a data-orientated business interested in how “the next agricultural revolution might work with artificial intelligence”.

* The Global Crop Diversity Trust, aka The Crop Trust, which is “extremely grateful” to donors such as pharmaceutical corporation Bayer, agrochemical giant Syngenta, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and… wait for it! … Unilever.

We’ll stop there and let you while away happy hours carrying out your own research into the New Deal for Nature and People.

One thing that is totally clear to us is that this scam is corporate to its core.

It has nothing to do with either “nature” or “people” and everything to with racking up state-facilitated big business profiteering, exploitation and control.

capitalist profits

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4. Jailed for exposing US war crimes

Julian Assange 2

More and more voices are speaking up in defence of Julian Assange, a political prisoner of the neoliberal US empire.

The 48-year-old WikiLeaks founder has been locked up in HMP Belmarsh in London since April 2019, after spending seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy under political asylum.

He is facing up to 175 years in prison in the USA in relation to charges filed under the Espionage Act, despite not being American and not having been in the USA when the alleged offences were committed.

The increasingly desperate US state seems to be declaring the right to punish anyone, anywhere in the world, who exposes and challenges its war crimes and impunity.

The servile UK authorities are, of course, happy to go along with Washington’s orders.

Julian assange 3

At a meeting in London on February 4, Professor Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, condemned the way Assange has been treated.

“We are living in a time when our own war crimes are no longer prosecuted,” he said.

“175 years for whatever they are accusing Mr Assange of, it’s certainly not violence, certainly it’s not genocide, certainly it’s not massacring civilians or torturing anybody, and people for genocide in the Hague they receive 35 or 45 years. I’m genuinely outraged.”

In Germany, more than 130 prominent figures from the world of art, politics and media have signed a petition calling for Assange to be released from prison.

In France, young lawyer and author Juan Branco has followed his anti-Macron book Crépuscule with a book about Assange, called Assange: l’anti-souverain.

He says: “Julian Assange is a completely unique personality and his actions mean he will long retain a place in history”.

Assange GJ

Meanwhile, 100 supporters of the Gilets Jaunes movement in France travelled to London at the end of January to take part in an Assange solidarity protest at HMP Belmarsh.

Magali Chastaing told The Canary: “The case of Julian Assange is not just only about one person, it’s the symbol of the treatment given to truth today… and this is affecting all of us”.

In Brussels, Assange was hailed as a “resistance fighter of the 21st century” as journalists gathered to demand that the Belgian government take urgent action to block his extradition to the US.

International Federation of Journalists general secretary Anthony Bellanger asked for Assange to be recognised as an honorary citizen of Brussels.

In Sweden, Karin Pettersson wrote on February 9 that “the process against Assange risks having far-reaching consequences for journalism and press freedom” and noted that “there is evidence that he is subjected to torture-like conditions in prison”.

assange protest

In Assange’s native Australia, academic Alison Broinowski noted on the same day that the WikiLeaks man had been jailed for “telling the truth”.

Commenting on the possibility of a 175-year sentence in the USA, she wrote: “The absurdity of such a sentence, when the worst war criminals get 45 years, reflects the fury of the US security state at being caught out and the subservience of its UK colleagues.

“Those on both sides of the Atlantic determined to get Assange are unrelenting”.

And, reports The Canary, Australian MP Andrew Wilkie has announced that he will travel to London to visit WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange in Belmarsh prison. On  February 10 , Wilkie also tabled a “massive petition” in defence of Assange in Australia’s parliament.

Nearly 300,000 people have now signed a global petition to “Free Julian Assange and to stop the legal precedent being established of a USA Extradition for a non USA journalist that exposed USA war crimes”.

Julian Assange’s extradition hearing begins on Monday February 24. A protest is lined up from 9.30am. Latest info from the Defend Wikileaks site.

On Tuesday February 25 an event called “Imperialism on Trial – Free Julian Assange” is being staged at St Pancras New Church, Euston Road, London, from 6.30pm, with speakers including George Galloway, Craig Murray, Neil Clark, Tareq Haddad and Mike Barson from the ska-pop group Madness. Entry is £8.

AssangeFeb24protest

See also: Julian Assange: an enemy of the empire

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5. Guy Debord: an orgrad inspiration

guydebord2

“There remains nothing, in culture or in nature, which has not been transformed, and polluted, according to the means and interests of modern industry”

Guy Debord (1931-1994) was a philosopher and social critic, part of the Letterist and Situationist movements.

He and his comrades, such as Jaime Semprun, forged a deep-rooted critique of the industrial capitalist system, not merely in economic terms, but as a cultural and psychological prison.

This “spectacle” was “the superficial reign of images” (1) he wrote, where “the commodity contemplates itself in a world of its own making”. (2)

This modern world was inherently false and artificial, Debord said: “The whole life of those societies in which modern conditions of production prevail presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. All that once was directly lived has become mere representation”. (3)

It was not merely false, but presented its own falsity as an unchallengeable reality, he added: “What is false creates taste, and reinforces itself by knowingly eliminating any possible reference to the authentic”. (4)

lasocieteduspectacle

Debord’s analysis in 1967’s La société du spectacle was strongly anti-industrial, stating:
“The society which rests on modern industry is not accidentally or superficially spectacular, it is fundamentally spectaclist”. (5)

He condemned “the dictatorship of the automobile”, “the domination of the motorway” and “temples of frenzied consumption”. (6)

This industrial society was devoid of any real content, or intent, with its sole aim being its own meaningless perpetuation. It was a dead thing, “the concrete inversion of life”. (7)

“Separation is the alpha and omega of the spectacle”, (8) wrote Debord, and the system imposed its vertical domination on the population by denying them any horizontal connections.

gianttvOrganic, authentic, society was made impossible by the crushing force of industrialism: “From the automobile to the television, all the goods selected by the spectacular system are also its weapons for the constant reinforcement of the conditions of isolation of ‘lonely crowds’”. (9)

Debord made it clear time and time again that the spectacle was nothing less than the commercialisation of the world, the reduction of the world to the empty level of product and profit.

This commercialisation had gone deeper than the economic domain and destroyed the health of the human social organism itself.

“The spectacle is the other side of money”. (10) “The economy transforms the world, but transforms it only into a world of economy”. (11) “The spectacle is the moment when the commodity has achieved the total occupation of social life”. (12)

Debord reported in his 1988 Commentaires sur la société du spectacle that the situation was now even worse than in the 1960s: “There remains nothing, in culture or in nature, which has not been transformed, and polluted, according to the means and interests of modern industry”. (13)

barcode cage

And where did this leave the individual who had been reared within the capitalist cage and had never known anything but the illusions of its artificial anti-society?

No matter how hard he might try to speak out against the system, he risked remaining trapped inside its basic mindset and assumptions.

“He will essentially follow the language of the spectacle, for it is the only one he is familiar with; the one in which he learned to speak. No doubt he would like to be regarded as an enemy of its rhetoric; but he will use its syntax. This is one of the most important aspects of spectacular domination’s success”. (14)

Debord highlighted the role of the secret state and its involvement in imposing this underlying capitalist syntax, even within ostensibly radical circles.

He warned that its highest ambition was “to turn secret agents into revolutionaries, and revolutionaries into secret agents” (15) and that it could use all its traditional techniques in an ideological context – “provocation, infiltration, and various forms of elimination of authentic critique in favour of a false one which will have been created for this purpose”. (16)

Terrorism, he wrote, was something constructed by the system itself because “its wish is to be judged by its enemies rather than by its results”. He explained: “The spectators must certainly never know everything about terrorism, but they must always know enough to convince them that, compared with terrorism, everything else must be acceptable”. (17)

Video links: La Société du Spectacle (film, 1 hr 26 mins), The Society of the Spectacle – The Remake Pt I, (9 mins) and Pt II  (9 mins).

guydebord

1. Guy Debord, La société du spectacle (Paris: Gallimard, 1992), p. 152.
2. Debord, La société du spectacle, p. 31.
3. Debord, La société du spectacle, p. 3.
4. Guy Debord, Commentaires sur la société du spectacle (Paris: Gallimard, 1992), p. 56.
5. Debord, La société du spectacle, p. 8.
6. Debord, La société du spectacle, p. 133.
7. Debord, La société du spectacle, p. 3.
8. Debord, La société du spectacle, p. 13.
9. Debord, La société du spectacle, p. 15.
10. Debord, La société du spectacle, p. 29.
11. Debord, La société du spectacle, p. 24.
12. Debord, La société du spectacle, p. 25.
13. Debord, Commentaires, p. 20.
14. Debord, Commentaires, p. 38.
15. Debord, Commentaires, pp. 21-22.
16. Debord, Commentaires, p. 59.
17. Debord, Commentaires, pp. 32-33.

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6. Acorninfo

Opposition is growing to a massive sand and gravel quarry which threatens to ruin the rural landscape between East Tilbury, Linford and Stanford-le-Hope in Thurrock, Essex. Write local anarchist campaigners at The South Essex Heckler: “The applicant can stick this proposal for a quarry extension where the sun doesn’t shine – this quarry is a step too far. Sod the bottom line and the cult of endless growth that sees the earth as nothing more than a resource to be plundered, regardless of the cost to nature and humanity. Suffice to say, this fight does not end at the conclusion of the planning process, it’ll go on beyond that…”

thurrock quarry

* * *

There’s no stopping capitalist “progress”. Despite all the hot air about climate crisis and all the claims that there is no “magic money tree” to fund public health services, the UK state has announced it is going ahead with the £106 billion HS2 high-speed rail line. This will destroy ancient woodlands, nature reserves and hundreds of classified wildlife sites, wrecking the landscape across a huge swathe of England. Resistance is expected.

HS2

* * *

“The insurrectionary movement is becoming increasingly radical. I am betting firmly on a phase that, after the phase of frontal struggle against power, will destroy the State from its foundations, creating communes or territories managed directly by the people and for the people”. So says Raoul Vaneigem, Belgian Situationist and survivor of the May 1968 revolt in France, in an article making a link between events in France and the anti-capitalist uprising in Chile.

raoul vaneigem

* * *

A thoughtful article on the situation around the Hambacher Wald has been published on the Hambi Bleibt website (see Acorn 54 for news of the apparent “saving” of the forest by a government U-turn on lignite mining). The new piece says: “Beyond safeguarding the trees still standing, the significance of what has happened around this neck of the woods lies within the propagation of a spirit of defiance as an epoch of climate chaos and growing authoritarianism is dawning. As capitalism overstretches its ecological constraints and people grow increasingly conscious of the self-destructiveness of our current course, more cracks are to be expected. Let them burst and then bloom!”

hambach19j

* * *

Angry protests have been held in London against the far-right Tory government’s expulsion of people of Jamaican origin. “This wholesale deportation of people to Jamaica, tearing them away from their families is unjust, inhumane and racist in intent”, said campaigner Zita Holbourne.

Windrush protest

* * *

Is the Evil Empire crumbling? The Philippines has officially told the USA that it is scrapping a security pact that allows US forces to train and take part in joint exercises there. News agency Reuters comments that the move “could be a blow to Washington’s interests in maintaining a troop presence in the Asia-Pacific, amid friction over the presence of US personnel in Japan and South Korea and regional security concerns about China and North Korea”.

Philippines USA

* * *

“For more than 15 years successive British governments have covered up the role that the UK’s foreign intelligence service, MI6, and its security service, MI5, played in the abduction and subsequent torture of people they regarded as potential terrorists”. That is the finding of a report by Richard Norton-Taylor for the Declassified UK journalism project. Read the full article here.

declassifiedUK-torture-

* * *

Drugs, dynasties, and Nottingham Forest: Marinakis and Greece’s Mafia State” is a fascinating piece of investigative journalism on the Stateless website. While the Greek authorities claim to be fighting crime, drugs and terrorism in their war on the insubordinate Athens neighbourhood of Exarchia, the real villains lie within the country’s ruling business elite.

Marinakis

* * *

A multi-millionaire businessman has come up with a spiffing plan to help those who fall victim to the capitalist system of which he is a part, and end up without a roof over their heads. They can sleep in a “pod” made from two plastic dustbins. “Let them eat cake” and “let them live in bins”. Two examples of the elite’s blind arrogance that can only end badly… for them.

bin pod

* * *

Acorn quote: “It has taken me all of my life so far to realize that the single great obstacle in the way of survival and an extended human vision is the industrial society itself and its expropriation and suppression of the most sensitive & creative qualities of the mind”.

Kit Pedler

Kit Pedler

(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”.

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“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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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’.

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“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.

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“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

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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.

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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

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  • 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”.

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Police move in on anti-fascists in Dover

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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.

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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

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“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”.

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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.

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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“.

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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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