The Acorn – 14

acornmastheadnew

Number 14


In this issue:

  1. From Rhineland to Paris, a new spirit of defiance
  2. The adrenaline of disobedience
  3. Degrowth: complete system change
  4. Yorkshire on the fracking front-line
  5. Always anti-fascist, always anti-capitalist
  6. Holistic anarchism in Turkey
  7. Acorninfo

1. From Rhineland to Paris, a new spirit of defiance

endegelande4
Direct action – protesters push through police lines on their way to the mines

A new spirit of defiant energy has energised the radical environmental and anti-capitalist movement in Europe over the summer.

Signs of this resurgence have been evident for some months (see Acorn 7 ), but a notable catalyst has been the dramatic mass action against lignite mining in Germany’s Rhineland on August 15.

Videos like this, alongside first-hand accounts, have enthused activists and injected a new sense of purpose that goes beyond the specific climate cause to a broader and deeper anti-capitalism and anti-industrialism.

endegelande6
Mass invasion – this mega-industrial site was closed down for the day

As one participant at the successful, if damp, Earth First! summer gathering told The Acorn: “People have been so inspired by what happened in Germany, even if they didn’t succeed in everything they tried to do. It’s all changed now – you can feel that a surge towards a radical, direct-action approach in all sorts of areas.”

The Ende Gelände (“Here and No Further”) mass action saw people push through police lines and storm a huge lignite mining site at in Garzweiler, west of Cologne, closing it for the day.

Said a live report from the action: “Today has been a greater success than anyone could have imagined. 1500 people taking part in the action is more than anyone was expecting. 1000 of those people were able to enter the mine and shut down two diggers for the day. Each digger is capable of tearing 240,000 tons of coal from the ground every day so the significance of this should not be underestimated”.

The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination (Labofii) blog site says: “In that brief day everything changed for the European climate justice movement. Thousands experienced a collective power rarely felt within the competitive obedient individualism of capitalism”.

cop21-paris

Eyes are now turning to the COP 21 climate conference in Paris in December, where protests are set to be much more lively than previously thought possible.

An alliance of hundreds of NGOs and grassroots groups from around the world have called for a day of action on December the 12th, named D12, to be held at the end of the summit (officially the talks end on Friday 11th but historically, they have never finished on time and have always stretched into the next day).

Adds the Labofii blog: “Thousands are estimated to come to Paris to take part and if we play things right it could well be the next biggest act of disobedience for climate justice.

“The problem is that there aren’t any big excavators, pipe lines or power stations to block in Paris, so what kind of tactics would be relevant especially as we don’t want to give legitimacy to the broken UN process?

“The corporations and governments have failed us, it is time to take things into our own hands”.

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2. The adrenaline of disobedience

endegelande7
“I’m just so scared” – many courageous protesters were well outside their personal comfort zone

An important element this summer has been the involvement in direct action of people who would not normally be engaged on that level, due to the growing awareness of the seriousness of the environmental crisis and the evident fact that the system is not going to address it.

Take, for instance, this dramatic account of the Rhineland action:

“I’m running and I’m running and I’m just one, just one amongst hundreds of people running to escape the batons and the pepper spray, running to break through the police line and run on and on across the field to the mine.

“But as we’re running and my legs are pumping and the adrenaline’s thumping I turn and see something that makes my blood turn cold and time stand still. I see a man made massive with body armour and a helmet and a baton, and I see him throw his shoulder back and form a fist and smash the full brutal weight of his aggression into the face of an oncoming woman.

“She crumples but I don’t even see her hit the floor because I’m running and oh fuck me am I running and I’m thinking that this isn’t what I signed up for and I don’t want to be here and christ I’m just so scared. Because I am not an activist. This isn’t what I do. I’m a relatively normal, middle aged chap who does clicktivism when he can find the time.

“Direct action is not my thing. I’m not cut out to be here, running with hundreds of people across the fields of the Rhineland to try and close for one day a sodding great lignite mine”.

Ende Gelände Aktion

The Labofii writer confirms: “I have never seen so many people jump so far out of their comfort zones and take direct action for the first time. Never have I been part of such disciplined determined disobedience, whose tone seemed so perfectly balanced”.

Of course, the reality of being scared, and out of your comfort zone, means that the movement needs a collective inner strength. This can only be drawn from a world-view that accepts the reality of repression and the logical necessity of disobedience that strays beyond the narrow limits of “protest” as dictated by those who want it to remain safely ineffective and uninspiring.

The writer adds: “The more successful we become the more repression we will see. I lived through the rise and fall of the antiglobalisation movement and Occupy and neither of these movements were prepared enough for the inevitable repression that was to come.

“The liberal myth that ‘if we are non-violent then the state will not be violent towards us’ must be buried once and for all, it is dangerous and strategically useless.

“When you start to win, they start to fight harder than you ever imagined. First they divide and conquer, then co-opt and digest the movements. Only a broad space of disobedience where we do not condemn the actions of others will keep us strong.

“The tactical success of the 90s anti roads movements in the UK, which managed to force the government to cancel 700 road schemes, was that whilst there were the people living in tree houses and tunnels on the sites blocking the destruction and many big days of openly called disobedience where we would digger dive together, there were also forays at night by what were known as pixies, who armed with sugar and wrenches put the earth wrecking machines gently to sleep.

“Our movements are going to need these big open days of disobedience, the long months of Blokadia and site occupations and the night time secrets if we are to be efficient”.

Ende Gelände Aktion

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3. Degrowth: complete system change

The Only Sustainable Growth is Degrowth

The title of a recent book describes degrowth as presenting “A Vocabulary for a New Era”, but because the term “degrowth” is relatively unknown in the UK, there is sometimes confusion as to what it implies.

Degrowth book

Some activists imagine that it refers purely to a reformist approach, some kind of watered-down pale green theory, whereas in fact the term increasingly describes a complete opposition to the capitalist system and everything that comes with it.

Following on from the degrowth day at the Anarchist Action Network’s East London Rising week, there was a Degrowth Summer School in Germany linked to the mine protests.

degrowth summer school2

The emphasis there was very much on fighting the capitalist industrial system with the broadest possible range of tactics, including direct action.

Reports the Labofii blog: “In the main circus tent which holds several hundred people, we heard from speakers fighting against coal mines and nuclear power in India, oil extraction in the Amazon, first nations communities resisting the toxic disaster of the Alberta tar sands and eco-anarchists living in tree-houses to stop the expansion of one of the Hambach forest defence lignite mines nearby.

“We watched plays created and performed by refugees and asylum seekers. We took part in debates around new forms of radical democracy between people from the anti austerity M15 spanish movements, Greek Anarchists describing the self managed health, food and production systems that have risen from the economic collapse and a Kurdish representative explaining the experiments in municipal libertarianism which is building a nation without a state, founded on feminism, ecology and radical autonomy in northern Syria”.

degrowth summer school3

In her report for the Degrowth.de website, Christiane Kliemann reported that there had been discussion about the COP 21 summit in Paris, in which it was stressed that it was important not to repeat the reformist NGO-inspired mistakes of Copenhagen by creating hope around the official process and thus accepting the lies of the capitalist system.

“The movement has to stay firm instead and insist that it is not about climate change alone, but complete system change”.

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4. Yorkshire on the fracking front-line

Fracking Yorkshire

Yorkshire is being seen as the new front-line in the UK battle against fracking, with just under a third of the proposed oil and gas licences announced in August targeting it, reports the Drill or Drop website.

Northern anti-fracking groups have vowed to unite to prevent any fracking in the north of England as a whole – Lancashire, Cheshire and Lincolnshire are also in the sights of the fracking business, whose profiteering is to be fast-tracked past growing public opposition by the complicit British state.

Pippa Hockey from Frack Free East Yorkshire said, “The more they try and push fracking on us, the harder we will fight back. We have made friends all over the UK, especially with other groups in the north, and now we will all work together to stop fracking happening anywhere”.

Frack Off have produced an online guide to fighting fracking – it is available here.

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5. Always anti-fascist, always anti-capitalist

Anti-fascists owning the streets in Liverpool
Anti-fascists owning the streets in Liverpool

A significant moment in the struggle against the British extreme right was enjoyed in Liverpool on August 15 2015.

The mobilisation against the neo-Nazi ‘White Man March’ in Liverpool was, in the words of the Anti-Fascist Network, “an outstanding victory for militant anti-fascism and an utter humiliation and total rout for National Action”.

A spokesperson was also quoted as saying: “The event has already been dubbed the ‘Battle of Lime Street’. This might be the biggest anti-fascist victory in the UK for 20 or 30 years”.

While this might be disputed by Brighton anti-fascists who have consistently seen off threats from EDL-supporting fascists, or indeed anti-fascists in the likes of Walthamstow, the Liverpool action was certainly impressive.

The neo-Nazis didn’t manage to march, or even stage a static rally – in fact they didn’t even leave the railway station and were forced to hide in a left luggage shop as a huge crowd of anti-fascists jeered and heckled them and pelted them with water bottles, eggs, bananas, milk, orange juice and sundry other grocery products.

wmm2

One of the many good things the day achieved was to show that the most effective way of stopping and humiliating fascists is not by holding a worthy-but-dull rally at the other end of town, but to go to them and directly face up to them.

This approach not only works, but also illustrates the strength of the general anarchist approach of confrontation and non-collaboration with police and authorities.

It is a reminder that the radical anti-fascist movement in the UK is very much part of the broader struggle. It does not take to the streets to defend fake “democracy” but to defend our freedom and to defend the political space from which we can attack the capitalist system.

In many ways, in fact, it actually is the anti-capitalist movement, but in the defensive mode needed to stop the streets being taken over by nazis.

And anti-fascists are not going to wait until the last fascist has disappeared off the face of the planet before they commit to destroying the sick capitalist system that spawned them.

Always anti-fascist, always anti-capitalist!alwaysantifascist

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6. Holistic anarchism in Turkey

DAF2

An interview shedding light on the Turkish anarchist movement, and its links to the Kurdish struggle, has been published by Corporate Watch.

Researchers spoke to three members of Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet (DAF, or Revolutionary Anarchist Action) in Istanbul. DAF are involved in solidarity with the Kurdish struggle, the Rojava revolution and against ISIS’s attack on Kobane, and have taken action against Turkish state repression and corporate abuse. They are attempting to establish alternatives to the current system through self-organisation, mutual aid and co-operatives.

DAF describe their anarchism as “holistic”, an anarchism without adjectives that refuses to be limited by too specific an orientation.

They say: “The main issue for DAF is to organise anarchism within society. We try to socialize anarchism with struggle on the streets. This is what we give importance to. For nearly nine years we have been doing this.

daf

“On an ideological level we have a holistic perspective. We don’t have a hierarchical perspective on struggles. We think workers’ struggle is important but not more important than the Kurdish struggle or women’s struggles or ecological struggles.

“Capitalism tries to divide these struggles. If the enemy is attacking us in a holistic way we have to approach it in a holistic way”.

Part of their outlook is to stress the historical anarchist continuity between the struggles for freedom towards the end of Ottoman Empire and today’s struggle for freedom in Kurdistan.

They explain: “In Ottoman times anarchists organised workers’ struggle in the main cities: Saloniki, Izmir, Istanbul and Cairo. For example [the Italian anarchist, Errico] Malatesta was involved in organizing industrial workers in Cairo.

Armenian anarchist Atabekian
Armenian anarchist Atabekian

“The freedom struggles of Armenia, Bulgaria and Greece had connections with anarchist groups. Alexander Atabekian, an important person in the Armenian freedom struggle, was an anarchist, translating leaflets into Armenian and distributing them. He was a friend of Kropotkin and distributed Kropotkin’s anarchist leaflets.

“Towards the end of the Ottoman Empire, at the end of the 19th century, Sultan Abdul Hamid II repressed the actions of anarchists in Turkey. He knew what anarchists were and took a special interest in them. He killed or deported anarchists and set up a special intelligence agency for this purpose.

“Anarchists responded by carrying out attacks on the Yildiz Sarayi palace and with explosions at the Ottoman bank in Saloniki.

“The government of the Ottoman Empire didn’t end at the Turkish republic. The fez has gone since but the system is still the same”.

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7. Acorninfo

More details are emerging of the multiple actions planned against the DSEI arms fair in London’s Docklands this month (see Acorn 13). A bid to disrupt the setting-up of the event includes a Stop Arming Israel day on Monday September 7 and an environment day of action on Wednesday September 9, before the big day of protest on Saturday September 12. More info at http://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/events/

DSEI poster

* * *

A street party against the gentrification of London is being staged in Shoreditch on Saturday September 26. Says the call-out for Fuck Parade 3: “Our communities are being ripped apart – by Russian oligarchs, Saudi Sheiks, Israeli scumbag property developers, Texan oil-money twats and our own home-grown Eton toffs. Local authorities are coining it in, in a short sighted race for cash by ‘regenerating’ social housing. We will protest this economic warfare with a street party on September 26th”. Meet Shoreditch overground station from 7pm.

fuckparadesep26

* * *

Police in the USA are reacting to the swelling wave of protest by buying acoustic cannon that can be used to fire deafening noises at crowds of people, a report has revealed. The weapons have been used, mainly as loudspeakers, at various Black Lives Matter events over the last 12 months and in Ferguson, the LRAD cannon was fired on protesters who had assembled in the street. The device can reach 152 decibels, a level that can cause permanent hearing damage.

June 3, 2010 Police demonstrate the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD). The Integrated Security Unit for the G20 held a technical briefing at the Toronto Police College. The technical briefing is designed to feature specialized units from the Toronto Police Service, Peel Regional Police, the OPP, the RCMP and the Canadian Forces that will be utilized during the G20. It will provide an opportunity for the media to become familiar with what they will see on the streets of Toronto during the summit from a law enforcement and security perspective. Units on display include Police Dog Services, Mounted Unit, Marine Unit, Public Safety Unit, Traffic Services, Video Services, Emergency Task Force and Tactical Emergency Services from both Toronto EMS and Toronto Fire Services. (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star)

* * *

The role of British police spy Mark Kennedy in the persecution of the alleged “Invisible Committee” in France (see Acorn 13) is explored in an article on the undercoverinfo blog. Part of his role was to provide “intelligence” on an alleged international meeting of anarchists in New York, says the article.

Mark Kennedy
Police spy Mark Kennedy

* * *

A video of a feisty No Borders demonstration on the French-Italian border has been posted online. Migrants living in the camp at Ventimiglia (see Acorn 13) had tried to travel by train to Menton in France but were forcibly turned back by police.

ventimiglia protest

* * *

Two anarchist bookfairs are to be held within a couple of days in October. First there is the 2015 London Anarchist Bookfair, which is being staged on Saturday October 24 from 10am to 7pm at a new venue – Central St Martin’s behind Kings Cross rail station. And on October 24 and 25 comes the fifth annual Helsinki Anarchist Bookfair in Finland, at Peace Station, East-Pasila district of Helsinki (Veturitori 3).

anarchist bookfair

* * *

Acorn quote: “Sociability and need of mutual aid and support are such inherent parts of human nature that at no time of history can we discover men living in small isolated families, fighting each other for the means of subsistence”.

Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid.

mutual aid

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

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The Acorn – 13

acornmastheadnew

Number 13


In this issue:

  1. Tarnac – a victory against the system
  2. Terrorists head for London Docklands
  3. Camp to inspire resistance to capitalism
  4. Fracking resistance is putting the Earth First!
  5. Tourism targeted by anti-capitalists in France
  6. Video: camp resists logging industry
  7. Acorninfo

1. Tarnac – a victory against the system

tarnac demo

A significant legal victory against the capitalist system, and its use of “anti-terrorism” laws to crush dissent (see Acorn 12), has been notched up in France.

After seven years of trying to prosecute the “Tarnac” defendants for so-called “terrorism”, the French state has finally failed.

The eight defendants, accused of sabotaging high-speed TGV railway lines in 2008, will still go to court, but facing lesser “conspiracy” charges instead.

In an order made on Friday August 7, described as “a major blow to the police”, judge Jeanne Duyé rejected the government’s attempt to have three of the activists tried for “terrorism”.

Defence lawyers told the press: “Right from the start, our clients have been regarded and treated as terrorists. Finally it’s been realised that this just doesn’t hold up”.

Mathieu Burnel, one of the defendants, said: “Our arrests were purely political and based on false statements from the police. The whole thing is going to fall apart once it goes to trial”.

cominginsurrection

The case against the anti-capitalists from the village of Tarnac has been closely linked to their alleged co-authorship of The Coming Insurrection by The Invisible Committee, which came out in 2007, the year before their arrests.

Julien Coupat, supposedly one of the main authors, has said it is “laughable” that the “terrorism” case against him should be based on a book that can be bought in high street bookchains in France, such as Fnac.

The Invisible Committee last year published a follow-up book, A nos amis, which has now been published in English translation as To Our Friends.

See also:

Anti-terrorism is not what it says it is

Tarnac: state persecution starts again

“Insurrection has been waiting to break out”

French resistance to concrete future

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2. Terrorists head for London Docklands

Murder weapons for sale at DSEI

Hundreds of terrorists are heading for London’s Docklands in September, getting together to boast about the latest ways they have devised to kill and maim men, women and children.

These are not, of course, the kind of “terrorists” we have taught to identify as such – these are corporate terrorists, terrorists-in-suits, capitalist terrorists hoping to make a metaphorical “killing” out of the real one, as they get rich over the scorched flesh of human beings across the world.

The occasion is one of the world’s biggest arms fairs – the 2015 DSEI (Defence & Security Equipment International) , which will be staged from September 15 to18 at the Excel Centre in Newham, London.

Held every two years, DSEI is jointly organised by Clarion Events and the UK Government, which has a proud history of sponsoring global slaughter.

More than 1,500 exhibitors will attend 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.

dsei_class-leaflet1

The Anarchist Action Network (which has just staged a successful week of anarchist workshops nearby in East London) has a section on its website devoted to DSEI.

One part sets out why the AAN believes that direct action is needed against arms fairs such as DSEI.

It says: “From the UK’s illegal wars for oil, to the way arms companies are allowed to operate here with impunity, there is no accountability.

“The British police act as free private security for the arms trade – they abuse protesters and turn a blind eye to the continual breaches of laws banning the promotion of torture weapons, or those that indiscriminately maim and kill civilians.

“Various ‘illegal’ arms such as electro-shock weapons, weighted fetters and gang chains, cluster-munitions and anti-personnel landmines have been documented by Amnesty as having been promoted for sale at every DSEi arms fair since 2005 – yet the state has not once intervened.

“And some of the most destructive weapons for sale at the event – such as the drones frequently used to incinerate whole families by remote control at the touch of a button in places like Pakistan or Palestine – are not illegal to sell at all. In such circumstances we see no way forward but direct action.

“The police aren’t there to protect us but rather they exist to protect the interests of the privileged and powerful.

“Those people who seek to take genuinely effective action against the state or the corporations quickly learn this lesson the hard way, if they didn’t know it already.

“As an important matter of principle our group will never liaise or negotiate with the police”.

The Stop the Arms Fair website includes details of a week of action just before the event. More info is also promised on the AAN site in future weeks.

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3. Camp to inspire resistance to capitalism

rtf poster

“Build gardens, not prisons!” is the theme of an international Reclaim the Fields Action Camp being held in Shropshire, England, from Friday August 28 to Wednesday September 2.

Actions are being planned against a new superprison being built just across the border in North Wales and against the threat of fracking in the region.

There is also the chance to take part in installing gardens and low-impact infrastructure at the Dudlestone community protection camp and to learn about permaculture, agroecology, forest gardening, mushroom growing, pallet construction, compost toilet making, off-grid electrics and more.

The camp reflects a growing realisation that the struggle against capitalism is also a struggle against all the industrial infrastructure producing the “growth” and profit on which it depends.

Among the event’s stated aims are to demonstrate the interconnection between anti-capitalist and environmental struggles and “to inspire and radicalise everyone involved” – forging an authentic and deep-rooted anti-capitalist resistance.

North-Wales-Prison
The proposed prison near Wrexham

The North Wales Prison Project, which is one of the targets for the action days on September 1 and 2, will be Europe’s second largest prison.

It is due to hold 2,100 prisoners and is the first of a number of ‘mega-prisons’ planned by the UK state as part of a prison-industrial complex that enslaves the population for the profit of the usual business interests.

Reclaim the Fields UK was born in 2011, as a star in a wider constellation of food and land struggles that reaches around the globe.

Since 2011, camps and other RTF gatherings have helped support local communities in struggle, share skills, developed networks, and strengthened the resistance to exploitation, in Bristol, west London, Gloucestershire, Nottingham and Fife among other locations.

Every two years there is also an international camp, where people from around Europe and beyond meet together to support a local struggle (from gold mining in Romania to open cast coal mining in Germany, for example). People share stories and ideas about resistance and reclaiming our food system beyond national borders.

More info at: http://www.reclaimthefields.org.uk

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4. Fracking resistance is putting the Earth First!

EF!SG15poster-small

As the government pushes ahead with imposing fracking on the UK, despite growing opposition, direct action is likely to feature more and more in terms of resistance.

And it is no coincidence that fracking struggles are one of the main themes of the Earth First! Summer Gathering being held in England’s Peak District from August 19 to 24.

As we reported in Acorn 7, the event offers five days of skill-sharing for grassroots ecological direct action, with the chance to make links, share ideas, and get involved in the struggles against fracking, new roads and other threats to the planet.

As with the Reclaim the Fields event, and the degrowth day at East London Rising, there are encouraging signs here of a resurgence in the anti-industrial movement that was so strong in the UK a few years ago.

As Earth First! confirm: “This year’s gathering is set to be the largest since the 1990s with over 170 workshops confirmed so far”.

The exact location is now available: Bradley Nook Farm, Hulland Ward, Ashbourne, Derbyshire DE6 3EL.

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5. Tourism targeted by anti-capitalists in France

roybon
Protesting against the Center Parcs plan for Roybon

Tourism is very much part of the global capitalist infrastructure and should be confronted by anti-capitalists.

That’s the view expressed by supporters of the Roybon ZAD, or protest camp, in south-eastern France, which is trying to prevent a Center Parcs holiday village being built in the countryside.

De Tout Bois is a magazine produced in support of the ZAD, which was set up at the start of 2015 as the culmination of an eight-year fight against the Center Parcs scheme near Grenoble.

In an interview in issue 3, summer 2015, anti-tourism writer and campaigner Rodolphe Christin explains how the issue fits in to the bigger picture.

Center Parcs2
Center Parcs, where “nature” is for sale

He says: “What we have to understand is that tourism is simply a product of capitalism. Tourism is a practice closely tied in to a consumer-based lifestyle. As a result, there is no such thing as a ‘good’ kind of tourism for anyone who opposes global capitalism, a system which can only see the world as a source of productivity and thus profit.

“It’s a whole way of living we have to analyse and challenge, and not only the specific form that a tourism project might assume in a particular location. Of course, the infrastructure involved in a leisure park is very visible and it impact will bring about spectacular and brutal changes to an area.

“But an area criss-crossed with a network of holiday cottages, B&Bs, car parks, roads, and tourist trails is also a form of commercialisation of the world, even if it’s more gradual and therefore apparently more acceptable.”

The magazine is published by Le monde à l’envers

For latest info on the struggle go to https://zadroybon.wordpress.com

or http://grenoble.indymedia.org

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6. Video: camp resists logging industry

anti-logging
An indigenous activist talks about the camp on the video

A short video about indigenous resistance to logging in Canada can be seen on a new website.

The documentary about the land struggle in British Columbia has been posted on itsgoingdown.org

Four months ago Christine Jack, a St’át’imc hunter and fisher, and Ken Thomas, a St’át’imc Elder, set up camp near Lillooet. This is the unceded territory of the St’át’imc (Xwisten First Nations) at Junction Creek in the Yalakom Valley.

The area was used for thousands of years as a village site and trading ground where Secwepemc, Tsilhqot’in and St’át’imc people came to trade, hunt, gather and process foods and medicines.

Jack and Thomas reoccupied the land after logging company Aspen Planers was found to have been cutting trees on the site of an ancient village. It laid thin sheeting and gravel over what is believed to be an indentation of an ancient pit-house.

Notes the website: “At this time establishing camps on traditional territories may be one of the most effective ways to assert indigenous sovereignty and protect against the constant encroachment of government and corporations”.

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7. Acorninfo

Exactly four years after the English riots of 2011, a French magazine brought out to celebrate the uprising has been posted online as a pdfNow war is declared (taken from the lyrics of London Calling by The Clash ) was widely distributed as a print-only publication in 2011. It states in the introduction: “Austerity measures in the UK are exactly what they seem to be – a trite confirmation of the vision of the world held by those who are imposing them. When they run out of money, they try and take it from the people who haven’t got any. Inequality keeps a hierarchical society in working order. When poverty is on the rise, you nearly always see the rich and powerful crying out for more security – because sometimes along with poverty comes anger…” Of course, things are so different now that there could never be another major outbreak of rioting in the UK, could there?

riots of 2011
England in August 2011

* * *

While migrants in Calais have been in the British headlines, there are other camps around Europe that are little heard of in the UK. One, for instance, is at Ventimiglia in Italy, next to the French border. Here, African migrants prevented from crossing into France ended up camped on the rocks by the sea in what one blogger called “the very worst sanitary and human conditions”. Then some young Italian anarchists from No Borders stepped in to set up a proper camp, with open-air kitchen, shower and toilet. Solidarity in action! More info here.

noborders_20miglia
The camp in Italy, near the French border – “we are not going back!”

* * *

Another great technological break-through for humankind. It seems the latest “connected car” software allows hackers (or authorised persons?) to take remote control of a vehicle’s onboard computer, remotely controlling the throttle, brakes and even (in some cases) its steering, as well as the vehicle’s windshield wipers, navigation, and entertainment systems.

This car ended up in a ditch after its brakes were remotely disabled
This car ended up in a ditch after its brakes were remotely disabled

* * *

There is a call-out for court solidarity with the Plane Stupid activists who locked on at London Heathrow Airport last month (see Acorn 12). It reads: “For defending the planet and human health, the activists have been charged with aggravated trespass and being in a restricted area of the airport without permission. If you want to show them your solidarity, please attend their first court hearing on Wednesday 19 August 2015 at 9.30am, at Uxbridge Magistrates Court (nearest tube: Uxbridge, on the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines). The full address for the court is: The Court House, Harefield Road, Uxbridge UB8 1PQ”.

plane stupid lhr
The Heathrow protest in July

* * *

Acorn quote: “Why should I give a fuck about what anything costs? I’m here to live, not to calculate. And that’s just what the bastards don’t want you to do – to live! They want you to spend your whole life adding up figures. That makes sense to them. That’s reasonable. That’s intelligent. If I were running the boat, things wouldn’t be so orderly perhaps, but it would be gayer, by Jesus! You wouldn’t have to shit in your pants over trifles. Maybe there wouldn’t be macadamized roads and streamlined cars and loudspeakers and gadgets of a million billion varieties, maybe there wouldn’t even be glass in the windows, maybe you’d have to sleep on the ground, maybe there wouldn’t be French cooking and Italian cooking and Chinese cooking, maybe people would kill each other when their patience was exhausted and maybe nobody would stop them because there wouldn’t be any jails or any cops or judges, and there certainly wouldn’t be any cabinet ministers or legislatures because there wouldn’t be any goddamned laws to obey or disobey, and maybe it would take months and years to trek from place to place; but you wouldn’t need a visa or a passport or a carte d’identité because you wouldn’t be registered anywhere and you wouldn’t bear a number and if you wanted to change your name every week you could do it because it wouldn’t make any difference since you wouldn’t own anything except what you could carry around with you and why would you want to own anything when everything would be free?”

Henry Miller, Tropic of Capricorn

henrymiller4

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

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The Acorn – 7

acornmastheadnew

Number 7


In this issue:

  1. Summer of rebellion ahead!
  2. English resistance to fracking
  3. Mayday in Milano
  4. Fighting the power
  5. Action Camp and Climate Games in Netherlands
  6. Frackanpada
  7. Degrowth Summer School
  8. Rhineland disobedience
  9. Earth First! Summer Gathering
  10. Books celebrate nature mystic
  11. Acorninfo

1. Summer of rebellion ahead!

The Peasant's Revolt of 1380

The revolt against the destructive infrastructure of industrial capitalism will be hotting up all over the place this summer, sending a message to the neoliberal elite that they will not necessarily have it all their own way for ever.

As the disastrous consequences of industrial society become all the more apparent, the complicity of governments increasingly blatant and the greenwashing attempts of global business more and more ridiculous, resistance is inevitably strengthening.

From radical anti-capitalists on the streets of Milan to anti-frackers in the Basque Country, from climate protesters in Germany to anti-roads activists in England, the struggle is one.

Our look (below) at just a few of the things that will be happening in the coming months shows a gathering momentum and a growing understanding that capitalism and industrialism are all the same thing.

The pernicious effects of pollution and environmental damage cannot be separated from the pernicious effects of the exploitation and degradation of human beings.

This so-called capitalist civilization is nothing but  a death-machine, converting the living flesh of our planet into the waste products of profit. For the sake of everyone’s future, we must fight together to consign it to the past.

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2. English resistance to fracking

balcombe protest

The resistance against fracking in southern England – which hit the headlines with the Balcombe protests in 2013 – is looking set to intensify in the next few months.

The global oil industry effectively declared its intent to sacrifice the countryside on the altar of profit with its boastful announcement, reported in The Guardian on April 9, that it had found 100bn barrels of oil underground at Horse Hill on the Sussex-Surrey border near Horley.

Steven Sanderson, chief executive of UK Oil and Gas Investments gloated: “Based on what we’ve found here, we’re looking at between 50 and 100bn barrels of oil in place in the ground. We believe we can recover between 5% and 15% of the oil in the ground, which by 2030 could mean that we produce 10% to 30% of the UK’s oil demand from within the Weald area”.

There was an immediate response from a broad range of environmentalists. Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said: “To gleefully rub your hands at a new fossil fuel discovery you need to turn the clock back to the 19th century and ignore everything we have learnt about climate change since. We already have more than enough coal, oil, and gas reserves to fry the planet. Dotting the English countryside with drilling rigs and pipelines to squeeze the last drop of oil out of Britain doesn’t make any sense.”

And Brenda Pollack, Friends of the Earth South East campaigner warned: “Any firm proposing to drill for oil in the region knows it will face huge opposition – as happened at Balcombe, Fernhurst and Wisborough Green.”

It may be significant that working with UK Oil and Gas Investments at Horse Hill is American firm Magellan Petroleum. The US giant is also partnering fracking firm Celtique at Billingshurst, a few miles away across the Sussex Weald, where the razor wire is up and ready for imminent drilling, as we reported in Acorn 2.

With Balcombe itself not yet safe from fracking, the southern English countryside is thus braced for a new assault. Despite the constant rumours about the poor financial state of the fracking industry, the British state continues to do all it can to try to impose fracking by force if necessary – see our report in Acorn 6.

The absurd talk from fracking industry propagandist Ken Cronin of UK Onshore Oil and Gas about “great care for the environment” and “no impact on local communities” is showed up for what it is by a new documentary film being screened in Sussex this month.

gasfield

Voices from The Gasfields, a bang up-to-date report, talks to residents in Australia affected by the massive amount of fracking that has been allowed by complicit authorities to ruin the landscape, pollute the water supplies and taint the air.

What was once unspoilt bush has been turned into an industrial wasteland, cleared of vegetation, crossed by pipelines, littered with abandoned oil wells. Vegetables gardens have withered away, wildlife is dying, people’s health is suffering and the fracking industry silences news of what is happening with “confidentiality” agreements when it has to pay out for the damage that it admits it has caused.

Of course, the film is not just about what has already happened in Australia. It is about what will happen elsewhere, including England, if the fracking business is allowed to get its way. As residents recall, when describing the nightmare devastation covering one area the size of England – “it all started with one well”.

The threat is clear and activists are ready to respond.

Voices from the Gasfields is being shown by Frack Free Sussex at All Saints Church Hall, The Drive, Hove BN3 3GE from 7pm on Sunday April 26 – free entry.

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3. Mayday in Milano

Noexpo

International anti-capitalist protest, Milan, Italy, Friday May 1

Six weeks after the massive protests against the opening of the European Central Bank HQ in Frankfurt (see Acorn 5), European anti-capitalists will be gathering again, this time in Italy, to take on another major showcase of European neoliberalism.

The mobilisation on Friday May 1 is being billed as “a joyful angry international demonstration through the centre of Milan” and starts at 2pm at Piazza XXIV Maggio on the south side of the city centre.

It is focused on the opening day of Expo 2015, an extravagant six-month “world fair” celebrating the corporate wealth built on the exploitation of workers and the destruction of the environment.

The expo site, to the north-west of the city centre, covers 272 acres and is expected to attract 29 million visitors from the opening day until the end of October.

expo - greenwashing

The self-congratulatory capitalism of Expo 2015 is bad enough in itself but, to add insult to injury, it is trying to pretend it is some kind of environmental showcase.

Its phoney theme of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” is of course nothing but a deceitful piece of greenwash hiding the usual industrial-capitalist agenda, as a closer look at its site quickly reveals.

The section about its corporate “partners” boasts that “Expo Milano 2015 offers a unique business opportunity”.

expo - coca-cola

One of the “corporate pavilions” at the Expo will be from Coca-Cola, whose sickly spin, as unpalatable as its drinks, declares:Coca-Cola is working to embed sustainability-minded innovations at global and local level, into every aspect of its business, from sourcing ingredients to increasing beverage options to aspiring to be water neutral and recovering packaging”.

Coca-Cola claims that it enables “economic empowerment of women” and visitors to its propaganda-zone will learn all about its “efforts to enhance personal well-being, offering low or no-calories beverage options in every market” as well as about its proud record of “protecting the environment”.

Expo - new holland

Another pavilion comes from New Holland Agriculture (a brand of CNH Global NV) which “takes the opportunity to show how a world leader of agricultural mechanisation interprets the present and prepares for the future of farming”.

Also present is Vanke, “Chinese giant and leader in real estate” which has been at the forefront of the glorious “development” of China by the global industrial system. Its fine environmental record involves notching up than 60,000 homes a year. Its own website boasts: “In 2012, sales exceeded RMB 140 billion, once again the largest in the global real estate industry.”

Expo - vanke

The description of Vanke’s pavilion at Expo 2015 belongs firmly in the world of satire: “Visitors are immersed in a forest of poles, with screens which project scenes of lunches, joy, and sharing. The installation, based on the metaphor of roots, trunks and branches symbolizes Vanke’s commitment to the community, which lives among the mutual relationships of people, values and traditions.”

* Many of the same protesters will be joining a huge march against fascism through the northern Italian city two days earlier, on Wednesday April 29.

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4. Fighting the power

RTP

Reclaim the Power, Oxfordshire, England, May 29 – June 2

Reclaim the Power is holding a direct action camp near Didcot Power Station (Oxfordshire) as part of a global day of action, ahead of the UN climate talks (COP21) in December 2015.

Power stations like Didcot emit the same CO2 per day as the 20 least polluting countries combined. Although the coal-fired section (Didcot A) was shut down in 2013, and demolished last year because of EU laws limiting emissions, the gas-fired section (Didcot B) is still running today.

Says the RTP website: “While communities around the country have stood together against fracking, our government has been making plans to build a new round of gas-fired power stations, and wants to run them on fracked shale gas!

“And, despite the fact that we need to keep global gas reserves in the ground, if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change, corporate lobbyists are now pushing hard to scrap the EU legislation designed to reduce emissions across Europe! Come and tell them NO WAY and take direct action to shut down the industry. Didcot power station is a half-demolished monument to the unfinished job of kicking out dirty fossil fuels from the UK’s energy mix. Let’s finish the job!”

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5. Action Camp and Climate Games in Netherlands

aseed

Aseed Europe action camp, near Amsterdam, Netherlands, July 1-8

An action camp is being organised near Amsterdam by Aseed (Action for Solidarity Environment Equality and Diversity). Says its website: “Our current agriculture system is one of the world’s largest sources of greenhouse gases emission, especially meat production and deforestation. Industrial agriculture is addicted to fossil fuels and soil erosion and depletion increase the effects of climate change.

“In order to fulfill one of our most basic need in the long term, food production must become sustainable. The action camp will help the participants to focus on this goal and to make local, sustainable food production more widespread.”

The second edition of the Climate Games will be happening on July 4th in the same area, with the aim of “playing around some of the major polluters in Amsterdam’s port”.

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6. Frackanpada

International anti-fracking camp, Euskal Herria, July 13-19

Frack camp

The Frackanpada is an international protest camp against fracking that will take place this summer in Euskal Herria (Basque Country), called by the local movement against fracking (Fracking Ez) and with the support of a committed team of people based in different European countries.

Says the website: “There are various objectives. The first one is to bring together the people currently fighting and those interested to join the struggle against fracking in different places, to share experiences and exchange practices. It aims also to be a meeting place between struggles against fracking and those other related to the defence of the land and others such as against austerity and for a just and sustainable society…”

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7. Degrowth summer school

degrowth summer school
A lesson for today – all of this must end

Degrowth Summer School, Germany, August 9-14

The Degrowth Summer School will take place in the Rhineland lignite-mining area in the run-up to the Climate Camp (below). Says the website: “We want to reveal the necessity for a radical economic and societal change of our energy- and resource-intensive lifestyles and discuss concrete solutions and alternatives.”

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8. Rhineland disobedience

klimacamp

Climate Camp in Germany – mass civil disobedience, August 14-16

The group says: “In a big colourful action of civil disobedience we will obstruct the exploitation of lignite (soft coal) with many hundreds of people. Thus we will resist one of the crucial root causes of climate change. We will use a variety of actions, about which we will communicate in an open and reliable way. Let’s make the Rhineland the focal point of a strong and powerful anti-coal-movement!”

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9. Earth First! Summer Gathering

EF!SG15poster-small

Earth First! Summer gathering, Peak District, England, August 19-24

The gathering is billed as “five days of skills sharing for grassroots ecological action” revolving around the struggle against fracking, new roads and lots more, with a particular emphasis on community-based campaigns.

It is “a chance for people and groups from across the country and beyond to get together to network, share practical skills, ideas and inspirations to help our actions and campaigns be as strategic and effective as possible “.

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10. Books celebrate nature mystic

Salt cover completeJefferies cover complete

Two classic books celebrating a visionary English nature writer have been published in new editions by Winter Oak.

As a companion piece to Richard Jefferies’ 1883 book The Story of My Heart: My Autobiography, there is a fascinating analysis of Jefferies’ work by another neglected genius of the Victorian age.

Henry S. Salt’s 1894 study Richard Jefferies: His Life and His Ideals, sparked some controversy at the time as Salt – a campaigner for animal rights, vegetarianism and socialism – used it to claim Jefferies for one of his own, highlighting the social radicalism and nature-based spirituality that increasingly marked his subject’s later writing.

With wit and erudition he demolishes the conservative Victorian presentation of Jefferies as a mere chronicler of traditional country life and reveals him as a flawed yet inspirational figure whose best works were “unsurpassed as prose poems by anything which the English language contains”.

Salt writes of Jefferies: “He was a pagan, a pantheist, a worshipper of earth and sea, and of the great sun ‘burning in the heaven’; he yearned for a free, natural, fearless life of physical health and spiritual exaltation, and for a death in harmony with the life that preceded it.”.

This new 2015 edition includes a preface by Paul Cudenec, analysing the connections between the thought of Salt and Jefferies. Cudenec also contributes the preface to The Story of My Heart, Jefferies’ masterpiece of prose-poetry, in which he expresses his sublime yearning not just for connection with nature but for spiritual transcendence. Cudenec, from a contemporary environmentalist viewpoint, explores the significance of Jefferies’ work against a backdrop of disillusionment with industrial civilization and a cultural urge for the regeneration of human society.

For more information go to our books page

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11. Acorninfo

International protests are being staged against the ongoing repression of anarchists by the Spanish state (see Acorn 6). On March 30, another 38 people were arrested by police under the banner of “Operation Piñata“, a continuation of the notorious “Operation Pandora”. The raids were carried out amidst a flurry of propaganda making false claims of “terrorist” activities. One solidarity protest is being held in Brighton on Sunday April 12, 6pm at the Clocktower, North Street. “Muerte al estado y viva la anarquia!”

pinata
A banner drop in Brussels

* * *

The Landworkers’ Alliance (LWA) are celebrating Via Campesina’s International day of Peasant Struggle with a “Reclaim Our Food System” protest in Suffolk, England. They say: “This year we are targeting British Sugar PLC to expose the inequality and problems inherent in our industrial food system. Government support of big agri-businesses, like British Sugar PLC, threatens the health of our communities and the quality of our environment”. Meet outside the Bury St Edmunds Railway Station, 1pm on Wednesday April 29. Free coach from London.

British Sugar factory in Bury St Edmunds
Health threat – the British Sugar plc factory in Bury St Edmunds

* * *

Around 150 people tore down sections of the 8ft-tall spiked fence surrounding the Aylesbury occupation and other blocks of flats on the abandoned South London estate, reports rabble.org.uk. Dramatic video footage of the intensification of this local housing struggle can be seen online. Meanwhile, an anti-gentrification protest is being staged in Brixton, south London, on Saturday April 25 at 12 noon in Coldharbour Lane.

brixton-blockade

* * *

An excellent new video-poem with a deeply radical message has gone online. Inspired by the tradition of exorcism in Beat poetry, Kali Exorcism deploys text, sound and imagery to invoke the purgative energies of Kali so as to cleanse the world of the military-industrial complex and the state of perpetual warfare that the system requires. The poem also features in a new collection, ECOZOA, by Helen Moore published by Permanent Publications.

kali

* * *

What sort of politicians call for a “new model for development and growth” and can only contemplate a raise in the minimum wage that “can be designed in a manner that is consistent with improvements in competitiveness”? Yep, it’s those radical leftists from Syriza, now governing Greece – the quotes come directly from a recent document outlining their proposed reforms.

syriza

* * *

“The radical environmental movement is stuck in a rut, trapped within a space of increasing contradictions as leftist groups and large NGOs try to manage dissent”. That’s the provocative statement made in an article, which can be read online, from Black Seed, the US green anarchist publication. Issue 3 is soon due out in print.

blackseed2

* * *

Reclaim the Beats – join the Fuck Parade! This is the Mayday invitation from the London anarchists of Class War, who promise at 12V multi rig street party at 1 Commercial Street, London, from 6pm on Friday May 1.

fuckparade

* * *

The next national meeting of the Anarchist Action Network will be on Saturday April 18, from 12 noon to 5pm, at Freedom Bookshop, Angel Alley, 84b Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX. Email anarchistactionnetwork@riseup.net for more info.

aan logo

* * *

Acorn quote: “From earth and sea and sun, from night, the stars, from day, the trees, the hills, from my own soul – from these I think”. Richard Jefferies, The Story of My Heart

Richard Jefferies

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The Acorn – 6

acornmastheadnew

Number 6


In this issue:

  1. Highways to hell
  2. Degrowth – real anti-capitalism
  3. State’s war on anti-fracking movement
  4. Frankfurt – a firsthand account
  5. To Hell With Culture
  6. Acorninfo

1. Highways to hell

"A long term and sustainable benefit to the environment”? Roadbuilding in East Sussex.
“A long term and sustainable benefit to the environment”? Roadbuilding in Sussex, England.

The photo above shows Hollington Valley ‘Local Wildlife Site’ near Hastings in East Sussex on March 26 2015. It was posted online by the eco-action group Combe Haven Defenders to show the grim devastation caused by roadbuilding – in this case the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road.

Meanwhile, we are told that “England’s largest road investment programme for a generation” will be “a long term and sustainable benefit to the environment”.

How appropriate that the new official body Highways England is being launched on April 1! You’d have to be a complete April Fool not to see right through the glossy verbiage in its “Delivery Plan” from which these weasel words are taken.

All the smooth talk about making roads safer and reducing congestion is a barely disguised cover for its real mission of expanding capitalist infrastructure and thus increasing private profit at the expense of the public and the environment.

Hastings2
Supporting economic growth in the Sussex countryside

Readers of The Acorn will not be surprised to learn that number one on the Highways England list of “strategic outcomes” is “supporting economic growth”.

Its brochure adds: “We will do this by modernising the network to relieve congestion and reduce delays, helping businesses to grow, encouraging investment, creating jobs and opening up new areas for development.”

The last phrase here is important. “Opening up new areas for development” is in fact the opposite of relieving congestion and involves increasing the whole spiral of congestion, pollution, environmental destruction and climate change by converting yet more beautiful green fields and woodlands into ugly concrete and tarmac.

This is what new roads are about, everywhere in the world. For instance, the recent Russian proposals for a 12,000-mile east-west motorway (which would theoretically link the UK to the USA by road) not only go hand in hand with plans for new oil and gas pipelines, but have also been given the give-away name of the “Trans-Eurasian Belt Development”.

trans-siberian-road
Opening up the world for “development”

Highways England is proud of “working closely with Local Enterprise Partnerships and other local partners and stakeholders” to “identify current and future constraints to economic growth”. Like the countryside, perhaps?

In Acorn 4 we examined the Local Enterprise Partnership for parts of southern England, the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, and how its connections to the arms industry and global construction businesses fitted in nicely with its commitment to promoting their interests under the mantle of “economic growth”.

We also exposed how it has admitted that “sustainable transport” schemes do not necessarily have to involve either transport or sustainability and that it was considering one such project, in Worthing, that is blatantly nothing more than a make-over for a town centre shopping centre.

Not only does Highways England play the same deceitful game by claiming its programme will result in “An Improved Environment – where our activities ensure a long term and sustainable benefit to the environment” but, to add insult to injury, the list of its “sustainable” projects actually includes none other than the entirely phoney scheme in Worthing!

motorway1
Highways to hell

See also:

Infrastructure is the enemy

Profit before the planet

Battle of Hastings

Road fight is back on

The road to corporate profits

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2. Degrowth – real anti-capitalism

The Only Sustainable Growth is Degrowth

“Economic growth” has replaced “progress” as the term with which industrial capitalism likes to justify its life-destroying rampage.

What the two have in common is that they are both meant to be undeniable facts of life. Within the capitalist/neoliberal mindset, it is a “given” that we need economic growth, as if it were in some way essential to our survival, like sunlight, fresh air or clean water.

This assumption is sadly sometimes also accepted by “radicals”, who fail to challenge this overall capitalist framework and focus instead on making the existing industrial system “fairer” or more “democratic”.

An alternative to this mental trap is degrowth (known elsewhere as décroissance, decrescita, decreixement and decrecimiento). Degrowth is a movement of ideas that “can trace its roots back to the anti-industrialist trends of the 19th century, developed in Great Britain by John Ruskin, William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement (1819–1900), in the United States by Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), and in Russia by Leo Tolstoy (1828–1911).” (Wikipedia)

Degrowth rejects all forms of productivism (the belief that economic productivity and growth is the purpose of human organisation). It rejects the capitalist idea of “sustainable development”, which it sees as an oxymoron, as any development based on growth in a finite and environmentally stressed world is inherently unsustainable.

It is “a downscaling of production and consumption that increases human well-being and enhances ecological conditions and equity on the planet. It calls for a future where societies live within their ecological means, with open, localised economies and resources more equally distributed through new forms of democratic institutions” and proposes “a shrinking of the economic system to leave more space for human cooperation and ecosystems”. (degrowth.org)

Of course, within the degrowth movement there are differences of strategy. Some, for example, might think that the capitalist system might somehow be persuaded to dissolve itself, or that it will allow its phoney “democratic” apparatus to divest it of its power. Others fear that a more confrontational attitude will be necessary to save the planet…

décroissance

See also:

The end of endless growth

French resistance to concrete future

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3. State’s war on anti-fracking movement

The British state is going all-out to protect the fracking industry
The British state is going all-out to protect the fracking industry

Sinister signs are emerging that the British state is preparing to use the full weight of its repressive power to try to crush the growing anti-fracking movement on behalf of the business interests which really control our “democratic” society.

The threat is a response to growing support for the anti-fracking struggle, and increasing scepticism about the fracking industry’s corporate spin and its PR strategy of insisting that new sites are purely conventional and that no fracking will in fact take place – see, for instance, this local website in West Sussex.

One indication of the state’s hardline approach comes from the Network for Police Monitoring, which has warned that “police see opposition to fracking as the most significant public order issue in the coming year and are actively preparing for it”.

Another indication comes from a letter issued by government ministers urging local authorities to take a strong line against “unauthorised traveller sites, protest camps and squatters” – including, of course, anti-fracking protest camps.

There is an aspect absurd to this statement in that the ministers claim camps might “harm the local environment” – unlike fracking or roadbuilding, presumably! But there is also a sinister side to their message to all council leaders, police and crime commissioners and police chief constables. Revealing the real attitude of those in power towards the rest of us, they instruct their underlings in the state system: “Public bodies should not gold plate human rights”.

Warning: the British state will not "gold plate" your human rights
Warning: the British state will not “gold plate” your human rights

Netpol explored police attitudes towards the anti-fracking movement following a Supreme Court ruling that the taking and retention of the personal data of 90-year-old Brighton anti-militarist campaigner John Catt was lawful.

It says this may have significant consequences for the surveillance of political activism, since the judgment grants extensive discretion to the police in the operation of police databases, and in the collection of intelligence related to ‘domestic extremism’ or other protest activity. “It is, in short, judicial approval for the mass surveillance of UK political activism”, they warn.

To illustrate the point, Netpol sets out a scenario where local people set up an anti-fracking campaign in a rural village close to a drilling of a proposed new exploratory shale gas well:

Nationally, the police have identified opposition to fracking as a significant public order issue and so believe there is a likelihood of local protests outside the drilling site, though they do not know what form this might take.

In order to assess the risk that any protest might include some degree of obstruction of the site entrance or the public highway, senior officers decide to gather information through overt surveillance on all members of the campaign to establish its size, who is most active and most influential and what other groups, particularly undefined environmental ‘extremists’, local people identified as organisers are in contact with.

This involves officers attending a village hall meeting and noting what has been said, filming everyone as they leave, intimidating home visits to identified ‘leaders’ and logging the movements of activists’ vehicles as they go to and from the village. None of the people under surveillance has a criminal record – few have ever been involved in a campaign before – but this self-evident invasion of their privacy is justified as necessary “for legitimate policing purposes”.

As the surveillance expands from weeks to months, it is not long before the details of almost everyone over 16 in this close-knit local community has been added to the National Special Branch Intelligence System.

Conclude Netpol: “Alarmingly, our work alongside activists in the growing opposition to extreme energy extraction suggests this scenario may soon become entirely realistic.”

Meanwhile, anti-frackers in Bristol have launched a Solidarity Appeal to help their ongoing battle. They say: “Environmental defenders have recently incurred exceptional outgoings of more than a thousand pounds in the continued battle to stop big business destroying our planet. They need your help urgently”. Contributions can be made here.

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4. Frankfurt – a firsthand account

Torched
March 18 in Frankfurt

Following the reports in Acorn 5 of the dramatic anti-capitalist protests in Frankfurt, focused on the official opening of the European Central Bank’s new HQ, this useful firsthand account has been published on rabble.org.uk

From 5am on the morning of the 18th an estimated 6,000 people began marching on the ECB from different corners of Frankfurt. Activists had been organised into ‘fingers’, each with their own strategy to disrupt and blockade the ECB. 10,000 police, armed with pepper spray, tear gas and water cannons were concentrated around the bank.

As the fingers moved toward the ECB, banks, government buildings and shops were targeted. Paint bombs were thrown at the UBS building, windows were smashed at the local council building, Hilton Hotel and Sparkasse Bank. Slogans painted on the walls gave a clear message. ‘Smash Capitalism’ was written on buildings across Frankfurt. One person had written ‘The empire is dying’, and an advertising billboard for Intimissi underwear that objectified women was defaced with the words ‘Smash Patriarchy’. Police who came close while all this was going on were warned off by a hail of rocks.

As people got closer to the ECB, anything that could be moved was dragged into the road to blockade the area around the bank and prevent police movements. A building site was dismantled to create a strong barricade close to Ost Bahnhof metro station. Police who drove close to the crowd constructing the barricade soon thought better of it, and drove away at breakneck speed. A nearby road was blocked by an abandoned police car, which was set alight. The barricade was further strengthened by the torching of a luxury car.

Police responded by firing tear gas, charging at the crowd, punching and kicking demonstrators and kettling. Almost 400 people were held in a cordon and at least 17 people were arrested. One of the arrestees, Federico Annibale, a student from SOAS in London, has been in custody in Frankfurt since Wednesday. According to the NoTroika website he has not seen the evidence against him and has not yet been charged.

Despite police repression, people managed to set fire to dozens of police vehicles and set up burning barricades around the city centre.

burning barricade

By 11am riots had begun to abate, protesters danced on the streets at a sound truck at the end of a bridge close to the ECB, while police water cannons kept watch. The day ended with a colourful 25,000 strong anti-capitalist march through Frankfurt.

So, what is the significance of the Frankfurt riots? First of all, they are an effective example of propaganda by deed. The images broadcast around the world from the streets of Frankfurt may have brought a little hope to those suffering under the Europe’s austerity regime, to those ready to join the struggle for a different society. They send a message that people are, once again, ready to resist. They may also be the first step in a new wave of international resistance to capitalism.

On March 18th, thousands of German activists were joined by people from Italy, Greece, France, Ireland, the UK, the US, the Netherlands, Belgium, Turkey and Spain. Many of the international activists had come in large contingents, the size of which has not been seen since the heyday of international summit mobilisations. Those of us present on the day got a taste of what it is like to take part in a truly transnational demonstration, to make an impact despite the thousands of cops pitted against us, and gained inspiration and new allies.

Of course, the ECB protests had many of the problems that the international summit mobilisation movement also had. The Blockupy coalition was intentionally wide to maximise numbers, ranging from anti-authoritarians and anarchists to trade union organisations and the Die Linke party. The publicly announced planning meeting on the 17th, attended by over a thousand people, was reminiscent of attending the speeches at a traditional left wing rally. The Blockupy coalition felt the need to distance itself from the riots in the media. Ulrich Wilken, a coalition representative said “This is not what we in Blockupy had planned.” but that he “understood” people’s anger at the “policies of impoverishment”. A Blockupy statement later said that “individual actions” were “not responsible” – meaning that some demonstrators’ actions were irresponsible.

DieLinke
Party agenda – Die Linke

These so-called ‘representatives’ of the protests have their own interests at heart: the strengthening of political parties like Die Linke and other European left wing parties, in the wake of the success of Syriza in Greece. Those of us who want to see a non-hierarchical movement aimed at dismantling the capitalist system from below and creating alternatives which challenge all forms of oppression must be on our guard against our efforts being channelled into building popularity for these parties, which will not change the system and will only lead to further disappointments and failures for those who want to see real change.

Transnational resistance against capitalism needs to transcend the old cycle of counter-summits to create real solidarity between those resisting, to mobilise internationally to support local struggles, and to consider how a temporary show of resistance, as happened in Frankfurt, can make room for more permanent spaces from which to explore how to create new worlds free from capitalism and oppression.

If we are going to effectively resist capitalism, a system which defies national borders to dominate the world we live in today, we need strong local struggles, to challenge the system wherever we are and prevent further destruction of the earth and our communities by the endless drive for profit. But it is also necessary for us to see how these struggles are connected together, to get to know our allies living across borders and to recognise the power we have when we join each other. Let’s hope that the events in Frankfurt last week will spark a new wave of transnational resistance to capitalism which will strengthen our movements, reclaim space to create alternatives and inspire others to join the struggle.

"Conquer capitalism!"
“Conquer capitalism!”

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5. To Hell With Culture

readpostersmall

The first Brighton screening of Huw Wahl’s film To Hell With Culture is being organised by Sussex Anarchists at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, at 7.30pm on Tuesday April 7. The film will be introduced on the evening by Dr Michael Paraskos, author of Herbert Read: Art and Idealism, among other works.

To Hell With Culture is an inspiring portrait of the life and work of Herbert Read (1893-1968), one of the most influential art and literary theorists of modernism active in the first half of the twentieth century. He was also an anarchist, being directly involved in the movement both before and after the Second World War and penning some important contributions to anarchist philosophy.

Despite his passion for modernist culture, Read remained deeply attached to a rural English way of life threatened by the machineries of capitalism, declaring: “Deep down my attitude is a protest against the fate that has made me a poet in an industrial age”.

The free screening follows on from the Sussex Anarchists group meeting at 6pm. All welcome.

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6. Acorninfo

Never Mind The Ballots…It’s The 7th Bristol Anarchist Bookfair! The event is being held from 11am to 6pm on Saturday April 25, 2015, at  Trinity Centre Trinity Rd, Bristol BS2 0NW, with a Radical History Zone nearby at Hydra Bookshop. The bookfair comes just 13 days before the British general election and local elections and organisers promise: “There won’t be a single lying, corrupt, austerity-enforcing, media-spinning politician in sight”. More info at bristolanarchistbookfair.org

Bristol bookfair poster

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Two chapters of the new Invisible Committee book To Our Friends have now been posted online in English, ahead of its actual publication. The latest released text is called Let’s Disappear, and stresses that revolutionaries should not fall into the trap of seeing the ‘population’ as something other than themselves, as something that has to be influenced or harnessed in some way, as the state itself does. They remind us: “We are the ‘hearts and minds’ that must be conquered. We are the ‘crowds’ that are to be controlled”. The previously-released chapter is called Fuck Off Google.

toourfriendscover

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A general strike is being staged in France on Thursday April 9 against the new Macron law, with workers and students mobilising to block buildings and infrastructure and take to the streets in large numbers. The law drawn up by economics minister Emmanuel Macron is all about encouraging our old friend “economic growth”. The 106 articles in the Macron Law provide further proof, as if any were needed, of the ruling French Socialist Party’s neoliberal agenda. Working hours are to be increased, with Sunday working normalised in the way it already is in the UK, and bosses’ powers strengthened. As ever, though, the French people are ready to put up a fight!

9avril

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A draconian clamp-down on dissent and resistance is being launched by the Spanish state. On March 26 three controversial laws were approved in the Spanish Congress. The Penal Code, the new Anti-Terror Law and the Law on Citizen Safety, scheduled to come into effect on July 1, 2015, pose a severe threat to freedom of expression in the streets and on the internet. For instance, there will be fines of up to 30,000€ for “crimes” such as “photographing or recording police”, “peaceful disobedience to authority”, “occupying banks as means of protest”, or “not formalizing a protest”. Online activism is also targeted, with jail sentences of between three months and a year threatened for publishing “slogans or messages” or “inciting any offence of disorderly conduct” including “disturbing the public peace”. The state’s definition of “terrorism” is widened to include hacking with the goal of disturbing the public peace. More information at revolution-news.com. The new laws follow Operation Pandora in December, in which anarchists were attacked by the Spanish state under the guise of an “anti-terrorist” operation.

Solidarity with Spanish anarchists
Solidarity with anarchists targeted by the Spanish state

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Following a fire which affected the premises of anarchist publisher AK Press in Oakland, USA, it is making an appeal for funds to put right the damage.The target is a hefty $150,000, but $40,000 had already been raised in the first four days.

Fire damage at AK Press in the USA
Fire damage at AK Press in the USA

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Finally, a couple of online video recommendations from The Acorn. This documentary looks at direct action protests against the DSEI arms fair in London – both the event and the opposition will be happening again in September this year. And this film shows a feisty student protest against neoliberalism in Quebec.

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Acorn quote: “Dracula, king of the vampires, is the perfect fin-de-siècle cultural horror: something living hundreds of years yet dead, something dead but undead, draining the vitality of the living, like European Civilization itself”. Richard Noll, The Jung Cult: The Origins of a Charismatic Movement

dracula

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