The Acorn – 24

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Number 24


In this issue:

  1. May the First: one day in an unending battle
  2. Blocking the railway in Marseilles: a first-hand report
  3. Lies and bail conditions to keep anarchists off the streets
  4. Court victory for arms fair blockaders
  5. Witch hunt: antisemitism smears are ideological warfare
  6. Acorninfo

1. May the First: one day in an unending battle

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May Day in Paris

Huge crowds on the streets all over the world, at least one protester killed and many more injured by cops – May Day 2016 was as dramatic as any, as we show below.

In a way, although the people, the tear gas and the police batons were all very real, the day is a symbolic annual incarnation of a battle that goes on for 24 hours a day, 52 weeks of the year.

This is the battle between  us and them, between the exploited and the exploiters, the peasants and the squires, the workers and the bosses, the have-nots and the have-too-muches.

For them, any “rights” enjoyed by workers and the population as a whole are only ever provisional sops to keep us in a state of semi-contented complacency.

They would rather do away with them altogether and are constantly working at increasing their control and destroying our collective resistance.

They use the money they have stolen from our communal wealth to manipulate and control the means of public information, smearing or ignoring our struggles and denying all possible alternatives to their system.

They use that same money to employ people to spy on us, infiltrate our movements, divert our energies, pollute our ideologies, divide and rule.

And, of course, they use it to hire an army of tooled-up thugs to physically attack us when we venture on to the streets in a spirit of rebellion.

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A military-style operation against the people in Paris

What can we do to stand up to these brutal levels of force, particularly as the repression is smoothly covered up and even glorified by the mercenary custodians of the public’s “reality”?

All we can do is fight, and keep on fighting – on every level, in every way we can, on every single day of the year and, above all, on the symbolic First of May.

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Istanbul on May 1

This is what our comrades were doing in Istanbul when  police attacked them with water cannons and tear gas. A man in his 50s was murdered by the Turkish state’s thugs – run over by a water cannon vehicle – and there were more than 200 arrests.

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Resistance in Istanbul

That is also what people were doing in Paris, where the May Day march formed part of the current struggle against business-friendly “reforms” to the Loi Travail (see Acorn 23 and this update).

Repression in France, under cover of the “anti-terrorist” state of emergency, is reaching frightening heights (see, for instance, this video of the violent eviction of Nuit Debout in Paris on April 28 ) and the First of May procession was duly attacked by CRS riot police, using huge amounts of tear gas, who tried to split it into two.

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Paris on May 1

The mixed crowd, numbering up to 70,000, stuck together and at one point started chanting en masseNous sommes tous des casseurs” (“We are all vandals”) in defiance of the media-manufactured bogeyman of a “violent” minority of protesters spoiling everything for the law-abiding majority.

Ferocious levels of police violence, during the day and in the evening at Nuit Debout, were such that the Street Medic organisation later described the day as a “bloodbath”.

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Fighting back in Paris on May Day
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Paris, May 1

Tens of thousands also took to the streets of Seoul. Similar “reforms” to those being introduced in France are being imposed all over the world by the capitalist slave-masters and South Korea also faces a labour reform bill, pushed by President Park Geun-Hye and her conservative Saenuri Party, which will make it easier for companies to lay off workers.

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May Day protests in Seoul

In Manila, there was a massive protest against Philippines president Benigno S. Aquino III and US imperialism. Left-wing demonstrators fought with police who were protecting the American embassy (see video)

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May Day in Manila
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May Day in Manila – an effigy of the president
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Manila on May 1

There were clashes in Hong Kong when more than 5,000 people demonstrated to demand laws on standard working hours and a universal pension scheme.

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May Day in Hong Kong

It kicked off in Seattle, USA, (see this corporate news video), where anti-capitalist protesters bearing a large banner that read “We are ungovernable” staged an unauthorised march through the city centre.

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Seattle, May 1
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Seattle police in action

Police fired “blast balls” at the protesters, who responded with flares, bricks and Molotov cocktails.

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May Day in Montreal

And in Quebec, for the 9th year in a row an autonomous coalition of anti-capitalists invaded the streets of Montreal to celebrate people’s struggles. See this video from submedia.tv

Elsewhere, anarchists threw molotov cocktails through the windows of the State Savings Bank of Ukraine (see video) and protesters set off fireworks in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei, Taiwan, as a symbolic gesture to “declare war” on the government.

Taiwanese workers shout slogans "Strive for Working Right, Want Indemnifier" during a May Day rally in Taipei, Taiwan, Sunday, May 1, 2016. Thousands of protesters from different labor groups protest on the street to ask for raising minimum wage and shorter working hours. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)
Taiwanese workers during a May Day rally in Taipei

There were protests and parades all across the world, including Berlin and Geneva (below). In Málaga (Spanish state) the march included an animal rights bloc, while in London a May Day Fuck Parade was held in the evening (see video), with the partying going on until 3am.

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May Day in Geneva, Switzerland
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May Day in Berlin
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Málaga
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The May Day Fuck Parade in London

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2. Blocking the railway in Marseilles: a first-hand report

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Protesters block the main rail line in Marseille, France

April 28 saw a big day of strikes and protests against the neoliberal Loi Travail “reforms” in France (see Acorn 23 and this update). Feisty protests and brutal police violence broke out all over the country – see, for instance, these videos from Paris and Rennes and this photo report from Nantes – while Nuit Debout public assemblies were held in hundreds of towns in the evening. We received this first-hand report from the protests in Marseilles.

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Marseilles, April 28

This was “a historic day” for protest in Marseilles, according to one long-time local anarchist activist, and I’m not going to argue with that.

I will certainly never forget the moment when hundreds of us on a breakaway demo refused to retreat in the face of insane volleys of tear gas and grenades fired by the fascistic “BAC” plain clothes police.

A great cheer rose up as it became obvious that the police were outnumbered and overwhelmed and we were going to get through.

Two BAC cops fled for cover as bottles and other objects rained down on them and the crowd advanced. As they got into their car, it was surrounded by triumphant protesters, cracking the glass in the windows, before the state thugs sped off to safety.

The crowd surged down the road and through a gate leading to the railway sidings and on to the main railway line close to Marseilles St Charles station. Planks, tyres and other objects were dragged on to the rails and set on fire. 400 protesters were on the line. The infrastructure was well and truly blocked.

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Street battles in the Mediterranean port

You could tell something was going to happen right from the start. The official meet-up for the demo was at the Vieux Port, but here there were only the uninspiring supporters of the CGT trade union, far too close to the ruling Socialist Party to be any sort of threat to the system.

Up the road and round the corner, positioned to be at the head of the march, was the real heart of the protest. This was a mainly youthful section – including many secondary school students. They came from diverse backgrounds and notably included a noisy group of football supporters from OM, Olympique Marseille.

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The start of the march

There were chants against the bosses, against the PS, about revolution, as the march set off, in stop-start fashion, along Cours Lieutaud.

At the end of the road, the well-established protest route turns right into Castellane, which is supposed to mark the end of proceedings.

But today, people had other ideas and the head of the protest turned left instead, then formed up ready to head off in an unauthorised direction.

Attempts to persuade the massed ranks of the CGT to join in were not too successful – they preferred a symbolic turn to the right, as ordered by their stewards.

But, thanks partly to a looping protest that led out of the march and back in again, a significant number of protesters were welcomed into the breakaway project and it set off up Boulevard Baille, where the police had set up a blockade.

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The tear gas canisters started raining down before the front of the protest was even 100 metres from the cops. Plain clothes BAC cops lurked on the pavements ready to grab anyone trying to escape the gas.

Tout Marseille déteste la police!” went up the cry from the crowd – a local variation of the “Tout le monde déteste la police!” (Everybody hates the police!”) which has rapidly become the catchphrase of this uprising.

People advanced and retreated, kicking and throwing the tear gas capsules back towards the police. Sound grenades and rubber bullets were also fired and a trade unionist suffered a nasty chest injury as the police pushed the protest down to Castellane and out on to Rue de Rome

On the positive side, a well-aimed bottle hit one of the BAC thugs right in the face.

Somehow, the breakaway group kept together and 1,000 protesters now moved together back towards the city centre, taking side streets to avoid police blockades and the constant hail of tear gas.

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The taking of the railway was certainly a triumph – although some sort of mass exit strategy would have been useful to prevent the inevitable dribbling away of protesters though holes in the railside fences as the cops advanced up the line, and the violent arrests of those remaining.

More than 50 people were arrested, many of them school students, and a solidarity campaign was set up to support them.

It is worth noting that this was very much on the agenda of the Nuit Debout gathering that attracted several hundred people back at the Vieux Port that evening. While these gatherings inevitably draw in a mixed crowd, the overall tone here was inseparable from the tone of the protest.

For reports in French on the ongoing Marseilles protests see: https://mars-infos.org/

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3. Lies and bail conditions to keep anarchists off the streets

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Police attack protesters at a bank in Cardiff on May 2 2015

Trumped-up criminal charges and draconian bail conditions are being used by the British state as a weapon against dissidents.

This is the insidious reality behind the “justice” system, as exposed in a new Corporate Watch interview with anarchist activist Pete Simpson.

Pete was prosecuted and remanded in prison for alleged “violent disorder” and “assault of police officers” after an occupation of HSBC bank, as part of the 2015 Mayday commemoration in Cardiff, Wales.

Pete and fellow activist Josh Howe were found not guilty by a jury in Cardiff in January 2016 after it became clear that the police were telling a pack of lies and it was in fact the cops who had acted violently.

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Josh and Peter after the not-guilty verdict

He has no doubts about the political motivation for the prosecution, which put him out of circulation for months.

“They had presented evidence that we were giving out South Wales Anarchists leaflets. They made many references to it. The black flags that people had brought to the protest were also part of the evidence. They held up the flags in court, six or seven bundled together. They also asked me what I personally understood by the term ‘Anarchism’.

“The prosecutor had claimed in court that the protest was hijacked by an ‘anti-police agenda’ and had insisted that ‘we can’t have mob violence’ in the streets of Britain”, recalled Pete. “He asked the jury rhetorically. ‘is it likely that the police would lie about violence being used on them?'”

The pigs have a global reputation for telling porkies, and with the not-guilty verdict, the jury’s answer to this last question was a resounding “yes”!

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South Wales Police – liars

Pete described what really happened on the day: “Two of the cops that were there were grabbing people and I saw one cop throwing three punches in a row whilst holding a person by the shoulder, punching their kidneys. The same cop grabbed another guy and threw him to the ground without supporting his fall.

“A police officer had Josh’s neck under his arm and Josh was saying that he couldn’t breathe. There was another cop also putting his weight on Josh.

“I reached out towards Josh. The police officer turned round and elbowed me in the face, throwing me up against the wall and strangling me.

“Straight after that, the other officer came over and hit me with a ‘knee-strike’ in the part of the leg just above the knee. It’s apparently something they are trained to do to make someone fall to the ground, but they grabbed both of my shoulders and threw me to the ground anyway, head first. Then bent me in the middle somehow. My forehead hit the ground. My leg was suddenly really injured”.

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HMP Cardiff – used to incarcerate anarchists framed by cops

After Pete and Josh’s arrest in May 2015 they were remanded for several days in Cardiff prison. The judge only agreed to release them on the condition that they move away from their homes in Cardiff, sign regularly at a police station, keep to a strict curfew and wear a tag.

As Corporate Watch say, these conditions can only be described as political, aimed at restricting Pete and his co-defendant’s ability to be involved in political activism.

Bail conditions (i.e. conditions you are forced to comply with in order for the court to release you from prison or police custody) are only supposed to be used to prevent further ‘offending’ and stop people from absconding.

However, the use of draconian bail conditions against Pete and Josh, and others like them, amount to a punishment by the courts against people who have not been convicted of any crime.

Warn Corporate Watch: “Bail conditions are increasingly being used to prevent people from being involved in social movements that threaten capitalism and the state, particularly people involved in direct action networks”.

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Bail conditions are increasingly used to stop people from protesting, as during the London Olympics

Pete said: “The bail conditions and tag made it hugely difficult for me. I effectively didn’t have a summer last year. I couldn’t go to any summer gatherings, activist camps or travel very far at all. I wanted to be supporting stuff all the time, all the stuff that I would normally be doing to try to change the system and fight for freedom.

“I was basically denied a social, and active, normal, life. I often thought about people going out in an evening and sometimes it was really difficult just to hear about it. I could never imagine just how controlling the state can be when people get to challenge its links to big business like we did that day.”

Full article: https://corporatewatch.org/news/2016/apr/25/bail-conditions-used-tool-limit-political-dissent-interview-pete-simpson

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4. Court victory for arms fair blockaders

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The DSEI defendants notched up a remarkable court victory

In a startling victory for direct action, eight anti-militarists walked free from court on April 15 after being prosecuted for trying to disrupt September’s Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair at London’s ExCel Centre last September (see Acorn 23).

And they did not get off on a technicality – District Judge Angus Hamilton accepted the defendants’ argument that they had tried to prevent greater crimes, such as genocide and torture, from occurring by blocking a road to stop tanks and other armoured vehicles from arriving at the exhibition centre.

Reported The Independent: “Witnesses described the role of the arms trade in facilitating the repressive Bahrani regime, in Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign over Yemen, and with Turkey’s internal repression of its Kurdish population.

“The judge said the evidence of illegal weapons sales had been left unchallenged by the prosecution and that such sales would potentially break arms control laws.”

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Protests at DSEI

Said defendant Lisa Butler: “Of course, we were ecstatic with the result, but we feel that we should never have been on trial in the first place.

“At the beginning of the case, it was eight activists who were on trial, but by the end of the week, we had succeeded in bringing the corrupt activities of the arms trade to public attention. It felt as though we had successfully put Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, DSEI and the UK government on trial”.

Unfortunately, though, the court result does not mean that there is such a thing as “British justice” – as one of the defendants remarked, even a stopped watch is right twice a day.

Neither does it mean that arms dealers are generally now seen by our society to be the criminals they are. It is only if they infringe certain technical rules that they are considered to be in the wrong.

Profiting from the murder and maiming of other people is still perfectly legal and praiseworthy if it creates “jobs”, boosts “the economy” and keeps the blood-stained wheels of capitalism turning.

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Arms dealers profit from murder and repression

* Campaign Against Arms Trade is urging people to pledge to resist the DSEI arms fair when it is next held in 2017.

UPDATE: Just after this bulletin was published, it emerged that the British state intends to appeal against the non-guilty verdict and defend the arms trade. More information on this development can be found here.

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5. Witch hunt: antisemitism smears are ideological warfare

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Jeremy Corbyn

A toxic new ideological weapon has been unleashed by the capitalist system against its opponents – the witch-hunt accusation of “antisemitism”.

This phenomenon has come to its head in the UK in recent weeks with fevered accusations of “antisemitism” within Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, which seems to be regarded as dangerously radical by those in high places in the UK and the USA.

Former London Mayor “Red Ken” Livingstone, suspended from the party, pointed out that this line of assault from Blairite right-wingers has been shaping up for a while now: “Frankly, there’s been an attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his associates as antisemitic from the moment he became leader”.

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Tony Blair

There has been a related attack on Malia Bouattia, the new president of the UK’s National Union of Students, on the grounds of her anti-Zionism.

On one level these “shifty antisemitism wars” revolve around the legitimacy of support for Palestine and opposition to the brutal apartheid policies of an Israeli state which has long been a close ally of the UK, the USA, France and other Western states.

The success of the international BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) has prompted a “very coordinated and well-financed campaign led by Israel and its supporters aiming to criminalise political activism against Israeli occupation”.

In February, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson told the Financial Times: “We have stepped up our efforts directly and indirectly, dealing with friends of Israel in a variety of countries in which we have the BDS movement, fighting it with legal instruments.”

These “efforts” have been particularly blatant in France, where the authorities regard any call for the boycott of Israeli goods as a form of “racial hatred” .

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In the UK, too, there has been a state attack on the BDS movement, with a new set of rules that will make it harder for local councils and other public bodies including universities to make ethical procurement or investment decisions. Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove, has absurdly claimed that the BDS movement is committing “a crime worse than apartheid”.

The ideological distortion behind this attitude was well conveyed in a nasty attack on Bouattia published by The Guardian.

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New student leader Malia Bouattia

The author, Hannah Weisfeld, concedes that not all UK Jews support the Israeli state and that many criticise it.

But she insists: “Zionism, at its core, is the belief in the right of the state of Israel to exist. Whether Bouattia likes it or not, connection to Israel is a key part of Jewish identity for an overwhelming majority of Jews in 21st-century Britain”.

Challenging Bouattia’s very reasonable insistence that “for me to take issue with Zionist politics, is not me taking issue with being Jewish”, Weisfeld complains that “she shows a deep lack of understanding of Jewish identity”.

Essentially, Weisfeld is claiming here that Zionism and Jewishness are the same thing – to challenge Zionism is therefore to threaten all Jewish people.

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With the same line surfacing all over the place in recent months (for instance, in California), we are clearly witnessing a deliberate campaign to redefine criticism of the Israeli state and its policies as “antisemitism” and, therefore, as totally unacceptable and even criminal.

On another level, however, the current “antisemitism” row is not confined to issues around Israel, Zionism or Jewishness, but is cover for a new ideological assault on all opposition to the capitalist system – “extremism” as our rulers like to call it.

A telling pointer to this came in Paris in April, when right-wing Zionists falsely claimed that a group of anti-capitalist protesters had “attacked a synagogue”.

It is important to appreciate that the aim of this lie was not to discredit the pro-Palestine movement, as one might expect from pro-Israel groups, but to smear the left-wing anti-capitalist movement as a whole, using the “antisemitism” smear as a means to this end.

The same abuse of “antisemitism” accusations can be seen in an article in the Mail on Sunday on May 1, headed “Number of hate crimes against Jews soars as report says anti-semitism is at the ‘core’ of far-Left beliefs”.

The report in question was produced by  pro-Israeli scaremongers, The Campaign Against Antisemitism, though this fact is buried near the end of the article.

The Mail’s story blatantly and outrageously tries to smear all anti-capitalists as racists or even Nazis – a remarkable stance for a notoriously right-wing newspaper group, which famously trumpeted its support for fascism in the 1930s.

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At one point, without providing any context or information as to who was involved,  the article declares:  “In one shocking case, a mob shouting ‘Kill the Jews’ stormed a synagogue in Stamford Hill, North London, smashing windows and attacking worshippers”.

The implication is that this “mob” was probably left-wing, echoing the absurd right-wing Zionist claims regarding anti-capitalist protesters in Paris.

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This anti-left element is very much in evidence behind the attacks on Corbyn. Indeed, the undisguised hatred of Corbyn and his supporters expressed by the UK media, very much including The Guardian, is not only, or even primarily, based on his support for the Palestinian cause.

Instead it relates to other policies which, while they may not seem very radical to many Acorn readers, still  lie outside the imposed “consensus” of the US-dominated neoliberal capitalism that was safely represented by Blairite “New Labour”.

Explains a useful investigation from the Electronic Intifada website: “Although Labour’s membership has grown since Corbyn’s victory, he has been under constant attack from right-leaning politicians within the party. In an attempt to weaken his position, some of his critics have manufactured a ‘crisis’ about alleged anti-Semitism”.

It is important to understand that these smears are coming from a far-right elite of which far-right Zionism constitutes just one thread.

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A Kibbutz ceremony from 1951

Zionism is, in itself, not inherently right-wing. Its origins were largely on the left and, while any form of nationalism is incompatible with anarchism and other forms of internationalism, Zionism was born from a struggle against antisemitism and was theoretically no more unacceptable than the anti-imperialist nationalisms of Ireland, India or Algeria, putting aside the crucial issue of Palestinian land.

The far-right form of Zionism which dominates today is, however, closely allied to the imperialism of the USA, UK, France, NATO and the whole Western capitalist system.

It no more represents or defends the interests of Jewish people than the British, French or American ruling elites represent the people of those countries. Indeed, much of the story behind the fake “antisemitism” scares is to frighten the Jewish diaspora into the hands of right-wing Zionism, in the same way that the fear of “terrorism” is designed to frighten the public into the “protective” arms of the capitalist state.

In the words of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, “antisemitism becomes a weapon for imposing conformity on dissidents within the Jewish community”.

In Acorn 20, we explored the strong links between Islamophobic fear-mongering, far-right Zionism and shadowy CIA-backed pro-NATO organisations and individuals.

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Disallowing any such analysis has always been part of the ideological war conducted by this extreme-right ruling system against its opponents.

A particularly successful approach has been the “conspiracy theory” smear. This starts from the reality that racists with a hatred for Jewish people often hide behind the term “Zionism” in order to depict a poisonous fantasy-world of “Jewish conspiracy”.

This has been turned around to imply that anyone who suggests there is any kind of behind-the-scenes co-ordination within the various elements of the ruling system is a “conspiracy theorist” and therefore somehow associated with antisemitism.

Note that it is not even necessary to include any mention of Zionism within this analysis of power – the very fact of invoking any kind of “conspiracy” involving the governments of capitalist countries is deemed evidence of a crazed and dangerous mindset that could easily lead to antisemitism, fascism and so on.

This same line is echoed by everyone from “radicals” attacking the “dangers” of conspiracy theories within their own circles to the likes of Prime Minister David Cameron with his threat to clamp down on the “ludicrous conspiracy theories of the extremists”.

This fear of “conspiracy theories” and of contamination by association with right-wing or antisemitic ideas, can be traced back to the 1960s, when US intellectual Richard Hofstadter wrote an essay called The Paranoid Style in American Politics.

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As Robin Ramsay has written (see Acorn 20): “For ‘serious’ people – academics, journalists, politicians – large areas of political inquiry have been contaminated ever since by an association with conspiracy theories. Hofstadter’s essay appeared just when questions were being asked about the assassination of JFK and his essay helped to shore up the ‘lone assassin’ verdict offered by the Warren Commission”.

In 1999, this approach was further bolstered by the publication of a book called Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From. The blurb states: “To anyone who has ever heard a friend or relative say, ‘Don’t believe what you read in the papers’, Conspiracy offers a spellbinding survey – and a wakeup call”.

The author of this book was none other than Daniel Pipes, a far-right US propagandist, recently described by writer Nafeez Ahmed as a “well-known anti-Muslim hate-monger”, who sits on the presidium of the ultra-Zionist Jerusalem Summit alongside British Islamophobe Baroness Cox.

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Daniel Pipes

Adds Ahmed: “The summit’s advisory board includes other leading notorious neoconservative ideologues like Rachel Ehrenfeld, Meyrav Wurmser (wife of David Wurmser, Middle East advisor to former vice-president Dick Cheney), and Dennis Prager, among others”.

The truth is that the engineered fear of “conspiracy theories” (conspiraphobia, perhaps?) is part of a deliberate political strategy to delegitimise all analysis of, and opposition to, the capitalist military-industrial complex. The current controversy has to be seen within that larger ideological context.

By using the spectre of “antisemitism” as a stick with which to beat opponents of the dominant system, far-right Zionists are showing that they are in no way acting in the interests of the Jewish people they claim to represent.

Instead, they are using their well-being as a pawn in a political chess game which serves nobody’s interests but those of the capitalist ruling elite with which they are closely allied.

For when anybody voicing any criticism of Israel, or indeed the global capitalist system, is branded “antisemitic”, it becomes impossible to identify the real antisemites, the racist Jew-haters who must be sniggering with delight at the smokescreen being put up around their vile prejudices by those purporting to combat them.

See also:

Islamophobia: the not-so-secret agenda of Baroness Cox

Conspiracies and contamination

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6. Acorninfo

Manufactured “terrorism” charges against anarchists in Belgium are due to be considered by a court in Brussels on May 10 2016. A report on Rabble website explains that the Belgian state has lumped together 150 different attacks on targets such as police stations, courts, banks, companies profiting from the prison system, building sites, mobile phone masts and cars belonging to diplomats, Eurocrats and NATO officials. By inventing a single fake “terrorist group” behind all of this, the prosecutors have contrived to reclassify a library as a place of recruitment, discussions as clandestine meetings, leaflets and newspapers as urban guerrilla manuals, demos and rallies as terrorism, affinity ties and self-organization as “a structured terrorist group”.

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“We cannot love your world. Your world is bad for us. We don’t like it. There are too many people. Too much noise. No peace. It smells bad”. These are the words of a woman of the Jarawa people, who have lived in peace off the coast of India for thousands of years but are now being treated as tourist attractions, or animals in a zoo, as the nightmare of industrial capitalist civilization engulfs them. Says a Jarawa man in a new documentary film: “We live really quietly in the forest, and we are happy. Here, there is everything we need. The trees are full of fruits, and the flowers are magnificent … We can find everything we need in the jungle.”

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* * *

An in-depth analysis on the influence of anarchist, environmental and feminist thinking in Kurdistan has been published online by Corporate Watch, ahead of a new book called Kurdish Struggles for Autonomy, due out this month. Says the report: “The movements for democratic confederalism in Rojava and Bakur are a place where anti-capitalist, feminist, anti-authoritarian and anti-state ideas are flourishing. They have the capability to transform the reality of society for millions of people. These changes are being made by people at a grassroots level, who are inspired by the ideas of the revolution, not by politicians or government institutions”.

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* * *

Two UK diary dates. Earth First! has announced that its 2016 summer gathering will be held between August 17 and 22 in Northamptonshire. Further info to be released later. And the 2016 London Anarchist Bookfair will be held on Saturday October 29.

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* * *

Acorn quote: “It would be better to dump the whole stinking system and take the consequences”.

Unabomber, Industrial Society and its Future

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

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The Acorn – 9

acornmastheadnew

Number 9

Print version


In this issue:

  1. “Democracy” – another stick to beat us with
  2. Police lay siege to Liverpool occupation
  3. Mayday mayhem in Milan and Istanbul
  4. Tarnac: state persecution starts again
  5. East London Rising
  6. Acorninfo

1. “Democracy” – another stick to beat us with

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Police thugs enforce “democracy” near Downing Street earlier this month

It was bad enough, for those of us who have seen through the lie of so-called “democracy”, to be constantly told we had some kind of moral duty to participate in the electoral farce.

But no sooner had it all finished, than the state was announcing yet another raft of repressive new laws – supposed “anti-terrorism” measures using this very same fake “democracy” as a justifying device.

It seems that it is lining up something called an “extremism disruption order” which “would give the police powers to apply to the high court for an order to limit the ‘harmful activities’ of an extremist individual. The definition of harmful is to include a risk of public disorder, a risk of harassment, alarm or distress or creating a ‘threat to the functioning of democracy’.”

Adds the report in The Guardian: “The aim is to catch not just those who spread or incite hatred on the grounds of gender, race or religion but also those who undertake harmful activities for the ‘purpose of overthrowing democracy’.

“They would include a ban on broadcasting and a requirement to submit to the police in advance any proposed publication on the web and social media or in print.”

Prime minister David Cameron also claimed that the UK has been a “passively tolerant society for too long, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone.”

As noted by the Global Research website: “This extraordinary declaration is a backhanded acknowledgement that those who Cameron intends to target with the new law have committed no crime under the existing legal system.”

cameron
“Get me the Thought Police. Now!”

While the state is try to win acceptance for its idea of “extremism” by linking it in the public mind to “Islamic terrorism”, it clearly also applies to anyone who dares cock a snoop at the neoliberal corporate megamachine, as we can see from the remit of the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit, for instance.

The technique is Orwellian and essentially simple. The system declares itself to be a democracy and therefore anyone who opposes the system is anti-democratic! This is much the same as declaring yourself to be God and that therefore anyone who challenges your absolute authority is working on behalf of Satan!

Dont-vote

The UK is only “democratic” in that the state uses the device of apparent “democracy” as a mask to conceal the control and exploitation of the population that it carries out on behalf of the business mafia.

This mask is carefully constructed and multi-layered and can sometimes be hard for people to even identify as existing, let alone to see through.

As far as elections are concerned, the only participation allowed to the voter is to select an individual or a party from a limited list. This decision is usually made on the basis of the “issues” aired in the election “campaign”. These “issues” are selected by the parties themselves and by the media which essentially host the “election battle”. Since all the major parties, and the mass media, are capitalist, the “issues” are always those selected by capitalists.

Which capitalist party will respond best to the fears that have been whipped up by that same capitalist system – fears of terrorism and foreigners? Which capitalist party will best manage capitalism – or “the economy” as they prefer to call it?

capitalism mug

Behind all of this is the assumption that things should go on much as they have. That things can only go on much as they have.

The existence of the state is, of course, presupposed by the process of electing people to help manage it – one good reason for never voting!

Beyond that lie the permanent interlaced assumptions which allow this insane capitalist society to continue, despite all common sense.

The assumption that profit (“growth”) comes before all other considerations, including the future of the planet.

The assumption that “the law” has some sort of intrinsic right to demand our obedience.

The assumption that the violence used by the system is acceptable because it is justified by this same “law”.

The assumption that ownership of land is some kind of natural state of affairs and not a theft imposed by violence.

A violence justified by the claim that it is being carried out according to “the law” and by the state.

All these notions simply prop each other up and have no real foundation. They are a house of cards waiting to be toppled.

house of cards

The system knows this. It knows that its control of the population is based on illusions and lies as well as on violence and on the threat of violence – and that it could very easily lose that control. And it is afraid of us!

That’s why the barrage of propaganda is relentless. That’s why the National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit exists. That’s why the system is introducing yet more repressive “anti-extremist” legislation. That’s why it is authorising yet more surveillance under the “snooper’s charter”. That’s why it wants to repeal the Human Rights Act.

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Post-election anger in London

The desire for freedom is part of human nature and with every new generation of young people that desire is reborn on the streets.

There was an encouraging spirit of defiance to the protests in London just after the election, which can be expected to carry over to the protests against the state opening of parliament on Wednesday May 27 and the anti-austerity protest starting outside the Bank of England on Saturday June 20.

May 27 poster

June 20

However, we must not lose sight of the bigger picture.

It is certainly true that the new government are “Tory scum” and that the neoliberal measures packaged under the “austerity” label must be resisted.

But our real enemy always remains in power regardless of the spectacle of sham “democracy” – it is the death-cult industrial capitalist system itself.

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2. Police lay siege to Liverpool occupation

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The Liverpool city centre occupation

A month-long rebel occupation in Liverpool came to end on May 13 after police laid siege to the building and corporate media waged a smear campaign against the occupiers.

In the words of one of those involved in the Love Activists’ occupation of the former Bank of England site in Castle Street: “The bank of love were sheltering, feeding, clothing and supporting 60 homeless people every day before the police turned up and created a siege”.

He added that the Liverpool Echo was “not reporting the stuff Merseyside police have stolen from us. I have no shoes, coat, phone, card, passport, money, camera, house keys. I was released with only a t-shirt and pants.”

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Rebels under siege

According to the Infantile Disorder blog site, the cops starved out the vast majority of occupiers before moving in to arrest the remaining five.

“Those five have been put in court already, and in the meantime the Labour-supporting Liverpool Echo is covering for the mayor and police with a vicious smear campaign, aimed at reducing the massive public sympathy for the occupiers, and shoring up support for both the police and the austerity agenda of Mayor Joe Anderson.

“The Love Activists’ occupation provided food and shelter for scores of homeless people at its peak. By occupying what spokesperson Juliet Edgar described as ‘a building which symbolised capitalism’, they raised fundamental class issues about in whose interests society is run. The property speculator owners were granted a possession order at the end of April, but the occupiers remained, conscious of the huge levels of public support for their cause.

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The occupation won massive levels of public support in Liverpool

“On 29th April, the occupiers released a list of demands, promising to leave the building if they were met. All these measures, including decent provision for Liverpool’s homeless, were in Mayor Anderson’s gift to give, but he refused to so much as acknowledge the occupation in any public statement. Instead, within hours, cops laid siege to the building. The occupation – including many homeless, was literally starved.

“Meanwhile, the propaganda machine has shifted into action, in order to discourage others from taking similar action, or learning class struggle lessons. There have been false reports about people urinating from balconies onto the street, ‘stealing’ war memorials, and – most bizarrely – costing the police a lot of money.

“The Echo is pumping out this propaganda precisely because the occupation gained public support to remain even after the court order was granted, in an encouraging display of class consciousness from the people of Liverpool. The Love Activists will need much solidarity in the months ahead, as the ruling class tries to turn their inspiring story into a crushing example of the state’s supposedly overwhelming power.”

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3. Mayday mayhem in Milan and Istanbul

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Ready for self-defence: anti-capitalists march in Milan

A thousand-strong black bloc hit Milan on Mayday, as the traditional workers’ day march was expanded by opposition to the Expo 2015 World Fair in the Italian city (see Acorn 7).

This video, taken from within the radical part of the march, shows streets transformed into what looks like a war zone, with masked protesters targeting banks, cars and other symbols of industrial capitalism in clouds of tear gas.

And this video of the day was released by Italian police.

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Demonstrators wearing gas masks clash with police at a demonstration against Milan's Universal Exposition, EXPO2015, in Milan on May 1, 2015. Italian police clashed with protesters at the Milan Expo on May 1, firing tear gas at the masked demonstrators who had pelted officers with stones. AFP PHOTO / FILIPPO MONTEFORTE

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Despite the scale of the street rebellion, there was almost no coverage in UK corporate media, but a first-hand report on rabble.org.uk states: “Cars were set alight and banks, estate agents, chain stores and CCTV cameras were attacked. Anti-capitalist slogans were daubed on the walls.

“Police attacked the crowd with water cannon, sound grenades and tear gas. The bloc fought back by hurling rocks, the pavement was broken up and cobblestones were thrown at the cops. A line of people wearing motorcycle helmets and wielding clubs protected the crowd on either side. The police did not risk trying to enter the crowd.

“Coming just six weeks after international anti-capitalists came together in Frankfurt, the experience of Milan demonstrated again the value of international solidarity in the struggle against capitalism and the state. Those of us who were lucky enough to be in Milan were able to make links with comrades from across Europe, discuss and compare tactics, dream of the future and take to the streets together.”

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Mayday in Istanbul

Meanwhile, in Istanbul Mayday protests kicked off despite massive attempts by Turkish police to keep people off the streets

Reports the “Ne var ne yok?” website: “This Mayday was banned by the state like in previous years. In Istanbul, city hall decided to block Taksim Square – symbol of the Gezi Park struggle in 2013 but even more so of May 1 1977 when 33 protesters were killed by the police. They also blocked the centre of the ‘European’part of Istanbul – the areas of Beşiktaş, Şişli, Kurtuluş, Mecidiyeköy, Okmeydanı, Dolmabahçe, Kabataş, and Karaköy, as well as the two bridges crossing the Bosphorus to the ‘Asian’ side. 7 km of anti-riot fences, according to the media!

“Public transport was cut for the whole zone from 6am to 8pm – no metro trains, no vapur boats on the Bosphorus, no buses. The latter were used to transport the armies of cops – 25,000 of them saturating the streets of the city centre, complete with their whole armoury of rubber bullets, tear gas, truncheons, 70 water cannon and three helicopters.”

And still people took to the streets – clashes with police ended with 30 injured cops and 300 arrests.

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Reclaiming the streets of Istanbul

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4.  Tarnac: state persecution starts again

tarnacposter

The French state is restarting its persecution of anti-capitalist activists from the village of Tarnac, accused of sabotaging a high-speed rail line seven years ago.

Three of them are facing trial on charges of “terrorism” as the authorities try to milk the public mood whipped up in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack on January 11.

It was announced on May 7 that Julien Coupat, Yildune Lévy and Gabrielle Hallez faced proceedings in what has been a highly-publicised case.

Police officers walk in the streets of the French city of Tarnac on November 11, 2008 where alleged anarchists have been arrested earlier. French police raided alleged anarchist cells in three cities today and arrested at least 10 suspects following a series of sabotage attacks on the country's high-speed rail network.  AFP PHOTO THIERRY ZOCCOLAN
“Anti-terrorist” police invading the village of Tarnac in 2008

Tarnac activists have been accused of being part of The Invisible Committee, which wrote The Coming Insurrection in 2007 and recently published a new book, To Our Friends, due out soon in English.

The state’s interest in the group seems to have begun after the book’s publication. According to Le Monde, in April 2008 the head of the anti-terrorist police applied for a preliminary enquiry into a “secret anarcho-autonomous structure involving conspiratorial relations with activists of the same ideology based abroad and planning to carry out violent actions”.

Later that year, nine Tarnac activists were arrested and accused of the sabotage, which they have always denied.

It looked for a while as if the case would peter out, but now the state has started the ball rolling again.

tarnacmanif

Sympathy for the Tarnac cause is widespread in France, in a way that is perhaps not imaginable in the UK. The Coming Insurrection and To Our Friends are available for sale in High Street bookshops – the latter leapt into the Top Ten Non-Fiction Bestsellers list when it came out in 2014 – and mainstream newspapers and even TV have given space for the Tarnac circle to express themselves.

Interviewed in the media following this month’s announcement, Coupat talked about the way the Charlie Hebdo attack was being used by the French state to hold on to power: “The only hope for our rulers is to persuade everyone that there is no other choice other than to follow them, that it’s futile to imagine that we can build other worlds, foolish to organise against them and suicidal to attack them. That’s why Tarnac has to be decapitated. That’s why the ZADs have to be brought to heel whether by the legal route or with the aid of right-wing vigilantes.”

Sounding a defiant note, he added: “We are fighting because they have tried, and they are still trying, to destroy us, to erase completely from the map the political possibility which the state regards us as exemplifying. We are fighting for ourselves, for those close to us, for our friends and for all those who have ever expressed their sympathy and we are fighting in spite of the massive imbalance in strength between us and them.

“Rather than sensibly backing off, the anti-terrorism machine, intoxicated by its recent popularity, wants to have the last word within the cosy confines of its law courts. But these people should know that we are not going to sit back and do nothing, that we would rather unleash the fires of hell than let them trample all over us – and that we are not alone!”

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5. East London Rising

aan logo

The Anarchist Action Network is appealing for funds to help it put on a temporary anarchist space in East London during the first week of August 2015.

The network, which consists of individuals and autonomous local groups, based in towns and cities across the UK and further afield, says: “During the first week of August we plan to rent a space in East London, give away free food every day and hold workshops, talks and discussions about anarchism, anti-capitalism, anti-racism, feminism, ecology, housing, austerity, workplace and claimant struggles.”

The event follows the AAN’s Newport Rising event last year – see this report on indymedia.

To donate what you can to help make East London Rising happen, go to http://gogetfunding.com/east-london-rising

The next AAN meeting is on Saturday May 30 and Sunday May 31 from 12-5pm at The Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton.

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6. Acorninfo

Anti-fracking activists from across the UK will be converging on Lancashire on June 23 for a big demo. Two planning applications for the UK’s largest ever fracking tests are due to be heard in Preston. Coaches will be running from many parts of the country – those from the South East leave on the evening of the 22nd June and include free hotel accommodation for the night and breakfast the next day. Say organisers: “Limited spaces – so book asap! Suggested donation is £10 – but not having the cash won’t keep you from getting a seat.” More info here.

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Netpol (Network for Police Monitoring) is trying to raise £2,500 to pay for 500 special face coverings to distribute to protesters. It is part of a new campaign to encourage protesters to take more care about their privacy on the streets: “We want to encourage a shift in attitudes so that the wearing of face coverings on protests becomes normal and commonplace, rather than a decision taken by only a few.”

netpol coverup

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Indigenous people in Canada have rejected a massive bribe from the oil industry to allow a gas export terminal on ancestral lands. The Lax Kw’alaams people in British Columbia spurned a 1.15 billion Canadian dollar package ($319,000 each) in a unanimous vote against the hideous industrial project, declaring: “This is not a money issue: this is environmental and cultural”.

Lax Kw’alaams

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Reclaim the Power has now published more details of its camp at Didcot in Oxfordshire from May 29 (see Acorn 7). There is a full programme of workshops around the day of action on Monday June 1, addressing topics such as “how to deal with the police on demos”, a “guide to blockading” and “is RTP an anarchist space?”. The event is part of a global weekend of action for climate justice. A timeline of international events can be seen here.

RTPposter

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Dartmouth Films has produced a short film on Herbert Read and anarchism for Tariq Ali’s weekly news and culture programme broadcast on TeleSur television. It centres on Huw Wahl’s 2014 film on Read, To Hell With Culture, which was screened at the Cowley Club in Brighton in April. The documentary features interviews with author and Read expert Michael Paraskos. It is now online here and here.

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Acorn quote: “Apart from the desire to produce beautiful things, the leading passion of my life has been and is hatred of modern civilization”. William Morris, Why I Became a Socialist.

William Morris

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

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