The Acorn – 34

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Number 34


In this issue:

  1. Manchester: an explosion of hate and fear
  2. Extremists of the neoliberal “centre”
  3. The CIA and the war of ideas
  4. Enemy of the system – the US campaign against Julian Assange
  5. Money, power and mining
  6. Acorninfo

1. Manchester: an explosion of hate and fear

The vile bomb attack in Manchester on May 22 has left a noxious smell of racism and fascism in the British political atmosphere in the election run-up.

Prime Minister Theresa May was very quick to ramp up the terror alert status to “critical” and send the army onto the streets in a bid to show just how strong and stable she is.

The gesture has a hint of coup d’état about it. Even pro-establishment Guardian journo Jonathan Freedland had to admit that troops  being deployed in the middle of a general election campaign was “new and unsettling terrain for British democracy”.

As Gianfranco Sanguinetti noted, in his book On Terrorism and the State, regarding a similar situation in Italy in the late 1970s:  “The reasoning currently in vogue is simple: if you love democracy, you have to defend it; to defend it you have to fight its enemies; to fight the enemies of democracy, no sacrifice is too great: the nobility of the end justifies every means; no democracy for the enemies of democracy! Something which was never essentially a democracy has now visibly ceased being so”.

But even worse was to come from media commentators who seem eager to pave the way to a grim authoritarian-capitalist future.

The right-wing Muslim-hating newspaper columnist Katie Hopkins sent a tweet in which she called for a “final solution” – this apparent call for genocide is apparently now the subject of a police enquiry.

Incidentally Hopkins, formerly of The Sun and now with Mail Online and LBC, was sponsored through her university education by the British Army’s Intelligence Corps.

Allison Pearson of The Daily Telegraph tweeted:”We need a State of Emergency as France has. We need internment of thousands of terror suspects now to protect our children.”

What a bright idea, Allison! Round up those enemies of the state at once!

Meanwhile, Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked, struck an equally fascistic note when he tweeted: “A nation whose children are attacked must take action”, adding that “there is a strong justification for hate right now”.

O’Neill, and Spiked in general, has a proud history of amplifying authoritarian capitalist viewpoints under the cloak of a seemingly “radical” background – Spiked used to be called LM, or Living Marxism, and emerged from the very peculiar Revolutionary Communist Party.

As George Monbiot noted, O’Neill’s group has travelled “from the most distant fringes of the left to the extremities of the pro-corporate libertarian right” and it has never ceased being divisive and disruptive.

Explains Monbiot: “The organisation began in the late 1970s as a Trotskyist splinter called the Revolutionary Communist party. It immediately set out to destroy competing oppositionist movements. When nurses and cleaners marched for better pay, it picketed their demonstrations. It moved into the gay rights group Outrage and sought to shut it down. It tried to disrupt the miners’ strike, undermined the Anti-Nazi League and nearly destroyed the radical Polytechnic of North London. On at least two occasions RCP activists physically attacked members of opposing factions.”

Fake radical Brendan O’Neill addressing Australia’s Centre for Independent Studies, which promotes “the rule of law” and “free enterprise”

O’Neill, like Spiked as a whole, has a particular love of industrial capitalism and can barely suppress his hatred for anyone who dares to put the health of the environment above the quest for endless economic growth.

Indeed, he has specifically complained that environment protest “contributes to the increasingly mainstream hostility to economic growth”.

And he described eco-activists opposed to the third runway at Heathrow as “plummy-voiced enemies of progress, those most entitled and eco-pompous of millennials”.

He has also condemned the”leftish set’s warped, myopic anti-Semitism” and “the way in which attacking Israel has become a means of being derogatory about Jews”.

His Wikipedia entry describes him “a keynote speaker for the pro-Israel advocacy organisation StandWithUs”.

Meanwhile, over in France, the new “centrist” president Emmanuel Macron,  a former investment banker, has announced that he wants to further extend the country’s State of Emergency, for the sixth time since the Paris attacks of November 2015, and bring in unspecified new “anti-terror” laws.

And “anti-terrorism” was said to be high on the agenda of the NATO summit in Brussels this week (see Acorninfo, below) where Macron was meeting with counterparts such as Theresa May and Donald Trump.

Rabid support for industrial capitalism, bitter opposition to environmentalism, anti-Muslim rhetoric, hysterical calls for “action” in response to terror attacks… Funny how so many of these people seem to be reading from the same centralised script…

Resisting the Psychology of Terror

Terrorism and the state – learning from history

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2. Extremists of the neoliberal “centre”

New French president Emmanuel Macron

One of the most insidious terms on the contemporary European political scene is “centrist”.

It is a label claimed by the new French president Emmanuel Macron as well as by former UK prime minister Tony Blair.

And it is insidious because it is used to define extreme neoliberal capitalism as a norm, as a default position, as a “common sense” non-ideology whose assumptions and aims can never be fundamentally challenged, except by “extremists”.

Centrists like to make great play of being beyond the “divisive” politics of left and right and yet are always happy to exploit those divisions to cement their own position.

Thus Macron’s supporters in France urged left-wingers to vote for him to keep out the extreme-right Front National and condemned defeated left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon for not ordering his supporters to vote for Macron in the second round.

Tony Blair – another warmongering neoliberal “centrist”

Fellow “centrist” Blair saw Macron’s election as “a real victory for a more global approach to politics”, adding that he represented “a spirit which has echoes in every European country and in the western world in general”.

Blair’s supporters in the UK like to claim that the “populism” of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn is a mirror image of the right-wing populism of Donald Trump – the centrist line is always to lump all “extremists” together and suggest that if you go far enough round the “political spectrum” in either direction you will end up in the extremist hell of a kind of Nazi-Soviet pact, an anti-American, anti-semitic red-brown alliance that poses a chilling danger to strong and stable democratic values.

From the point of view of the centrist, which is of course well represented in the corporate media, anti-capitalism is peripheral and dangerous, always liable to open a Pandora’s box of hateful savagery.

This strategy is, unfortunately, very successful in terms of preventing the emergence of an anti-capitalist worldview that is capable of challenging reality as presented by the centrists.

Another inspiring revolutionary slogan from the mainstream “left”

Too many critics of neoliberalism allow themselves to be contained within the narrow political frameworks constructed by the dominant capitalist system.

Because centrists say that opposition to neoliberal globalisation amounts to a form of nationalism, some leftists are suckered into speaking in terms of “national” sovereignty as a bulwark against global Capital, rather than espousing a radical rejection both of the capitalist system and of the nation-states which maintain and enforce it.

Because centrists are always claiming that their policies are best for “growth” and for “creating jobs”, some leftists feel they have to justify their own policies using the same criteria.

Because centrists argue that the only alternative to imposing austerity is for states to borrow yet more money, some so-called left-wingers fall into their trap of proposing more debt to the bankers rather than the abolition of the whole capitalist money-system.

Because it seems obvious that, given the nature of elections and the shaping of public opinion, nobody can win an election on an authentically anti-capitalist platform, those leftists who engage on the electoral level of politics drop all real anti-capitalism from their rhetoric and programmes, and make do with reformism.

But this is a big mistake. They are not tailoring their politics to match the views of the public, but to match the views of the public as presented by the neoliberal centrists!

They are buying into the centrist line that the vast majority of the population are very happy with the way the world is organised and are firmly opposed to any fundamental change.

But what if that is simply not true? What if most people are sick to death of this hollow, money-fixated society and are longing for something else? What if most people are horribly aware of the dull limits of their daily grind, their daily consumption, and dream of a different existence?

What if most people are appalled by the spiralling destruction of the natural world, the police-state surveillance of every nook and cranny of their lives, the hypocritical warmongering propaganda churned out by the system’s media?

What if they are just waiting for someone to speak the truth, to say plainly that industrial society is a disaster, that the grey capitalist world of production, exploitation and consumption is a world not worth living in, that there are more important things than money, that  things could be so very different, so much better, if only we could smash down the walls of the cells in which have been imprisoned?

Where is the passion? Where is the rage? Where is the desire? Where are the calls to insurrection, to revolution, capable of stirring up a powerful groundswell of contempt for the self-defined centrists and everything they represent?

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3. The CIA and the war of ideas

It is not entirely accidental that there is a distinct lack of a coherent and vibrant ideological opposition to capitalism.

For many decades the agents of capitalist power, notably the CIA, have been engaged in what the Italian socialist Antonio Gramsci called a “war of ideas” to prevent any such movement arising.

Robin Ramsay of Lobster magazine, a specialist in secretive US interference in UK politics and culture, writes: “Much of the international political landscape of the postwar era in Britain consisted of US-funded or directed political projects – propaganda or psychological warfare projects they would now be called. And this was on top of the formal military-diplomatic-financial structure of NATO, the IMF, World Bank, Gatt, the UN etc.”

The pro-US, pro-Israeli, pro-imperialist “left” in Germany

In Germany, there has long been suspicion that American influence might have been behind the emergence of the “antideutsch” strain of leftism which conveniently combined anti-fascism with a fervent admiration for American imperialism and Israeli repression of Palestinians.

And a fascinating recently-released CIA document sheds some light on American capitalist attitudes to the “French Theory” philosophical movement which gave birth to postmodernism, postfeminism, postanarchism and that whole pompous school of pseudo-radical academic thinking which delights in pouring cold water on all notions of overturning capitalist hegemony and creating the other world for which we yearn.

The document, written in 1985, radiates with American self-congratulation that the anti-capitalist ideas which had been so powerful in France in 1968 had now been replaced by a philosophy that was friendly to US corporate and military interests.

It declares: “There is a new climate of intellectual opinion in France – a spirit of anti-Marxism and anti-Sovietism that will make it difficult for anyone to mobilize significant intellectual opposition to US policies.

“Nor will French intellectuals be likely to lend their weight, as they did before, to other West European colleagues who have become hostile to the United States on broad issues like disarmament.”

This shift in attitudes, it reports with evident delight, had been “weakening the traditional anti-Americanism of the leftist intellectuals and allowing American culture and even political and economic policies to find new vogue”.

The CIA reveal themselves to be very keen on “New Philosopher” Bernard-Henri Lévy, known as BHL in France, whose position of power at the Grasset publishing house was crucial in spreading the US-friendly ideology he was promoting.

BHL – a repeated target of anti-capitalist pie-throwing.

They also single out for ideological praise “the influential structuralist school associated with Claude Levi-Strauss, Foucault, and others”.

Of vital importance for the CIA is the destruction of an intellectual climate critical of capitalism and the imposition of a US-style money-orientated culture. They report gleefully: “There is no gainsaying that French youth, who once joined every new intellectual fad, now think of careers in science or business”.

The US agents note the rise of “a new wave of genuinely pro-American sentiment, rooted in the vogue of American popular culture, in respect for the American economic vitality of the 1980s, and in admiration for the new image of self-confidence that the United States now projects in the world.”

Opening up France to the rich delights of American culture

In a perceptive article on the implications of the CIA document, US philosopher and writer Gabriel Rockhill notes that it “should come as no surprise to those familiar with the CIA’s longstanding and ongoing investment in a global cultural war, including support for its most avant-garde forms”.

He notes that the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), which was headquartered in Paris and later discovered to be a CIA front organization during the cultural Cold War, was among the most important patrons in world history, supporting an incredible range of artistic and intellectual activities.

It had offices in 35 countries, published dozens of prestige magazines, was involved in the book industry, organized high-profile international conferences and art exhibits, coordinated performances and concerts, and contributed ample funding to various cultural awards and fellowships, as well as to front organizations like the Farfield Foundation.

Rockhill states: “The intelligence agency understands culture and theory to be crucial weapons in the overall arsenal it deploys to perpetuate US interests around the world.”

Former Marxists are particularly useful in channelling their propaganda as they provide “the perfect model for constructing deceptive narratives that amalgamate purported personal political growth with the progressive march of time, as if both individual life and history were simply a matter of ‘growing up’ and recognizing that profound egalitarian social transformation is a thing of the—personal and historical—past.”

Rockhill adds: “This patronizing, omniscient defeatism not only serves to discredit new movements, particularly those driven by the youth, but it also mischaracterizes the relative successes of counter-revolutionary repression as the natural progress of history.”

He correctly identifies the key aim of the CIA’s overall strategy to dismantle the cultural left in Europe and elsewhere as not being to abolish it entirely, which wasn’t regarded as possible, but instead “to move leftist culture away from resolute anti-capitalist and transformative politics toward center-left reformist positions that are less overtly critical of US foreign and domestic policies”.

There we have it. It’s the centre again. Indeed, the CIA report itself predicts that New Left intellectuals will weigh in heavily in supporting “moderate Socialists who are trying to create a broadbased center-left alliance”.

And the important point that Rockhill is making is that the CIA’s pro-capitalist contamination goes much deeper than mere party politics and into the heart of the contemporary ways of thinking that are considered by many self-defined radicals to be central to their “alternative” view of the world.

He says: “The CIA’s reading of French theory should give us pause to reconsider the radical chic veneer that has accompanied much of its Anglophone reception.

“According to a stagist conception of progressive history (which is usually blind to its implicit teleology), the work of figures like Foucault, Derrida and other cutting-edge French theorists is often intuitively affiliated with a form of profound and sophisticated critique that presumably far surpasses anything found in the socialist, Marxist or anarchist traditions.”

But the apparent sophistication of the postmodern position is simply intellectual bait in the CIA trap into which large sections of the so-called “left” have fallen.

As Rockhill writes: “According to the spy agency itself, post-Marxist French theory directly contributed to the CIA’s cultural program of coaxing the left toward the right, while discrediting anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism, thereby creating an intellectual environment in which their imperial projects could be pursued unhindered by serious critical scrutiny from the intelligentsia.”

Of course, the one thing the CIA report does not do is to spell out the US agency’s clandestine role  in bringing about this cultural shift away from genuine anti-capitalism and towards pro-imperialist postleftism, whether in France, Germany, the UK or elsewhere.

But then, they don’t really have to. Some of us are still perfectly capable of reading between the lines…

Exposed: fake “left-wingers” who hate the alternative media

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4. Enemy of the system – the US campaign against Julian Assange

The shocking way that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been intimidated and smeared by the pro-American neoliberal system has been condemned by investigative journalist John Pilger.

He writes on his website: “For almost seven years, this epic miscarriage of justice has been drowned in a vituperative campaign against the WikiLeaks founder. There are few precedents.

“Deeply personal, petty, vicious and inhuman attacks have been aimed at a man not charged with any crime yet subjected to treatment not even meted out to a defendant facing extradition on a charge of murdering his wife.”

Prosecutors in Sweden have now announced that they are suspending their investigation of highly dubious rape allegations against Assange, who has been sheltering in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for five years to avoid extradition via Sweden to the USA.

“That the US threat to Assange was a threat to all journalists, and to the principle of free speech, was lost in the sordid and the ambitious. I would call it anti-journalism,” writes veteran anti-imperialist Pilger.

“Books were published, movie deals struck and media careers launched or kick-started on the back of WikiLeaks and an assumption that attacking Assange was fair game and he was too poor to sue. People have made money, often big money, while WikiLeaks has struggled to survive.

“The previous editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, called the WikiLeaks disclosures, which his newspaper published, ‘one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years’. Yet no attempt was made to protect the Guardian’s provider and source. Instead, the ‘scoop’ became part of a marketing plan to raise the newspaper’s cover price.

“With not a penny going to Assange or to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie. The book’s authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, gratuitously described Assange as a ‘damaged personality’ and ‘callous’. They also revealed the secret password he had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing the US embassy cables. With Assange now trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, Harding, standing among the police outside, gloated on his blog that ‘Scotland Yard may get the last laugh’.

“Journalism students might well study this period to understand that the most ubiquitous source of ‘fake news’ is from within a media self-ordained with a false respectability and an extension of the authority and power it claims to challenge but courts and protects.”

And the reason for the unprecedented and co-ordinated judicial-media attacks on Assange, whom some useful idiots on the fake “left” are also happy to condemn? It is simply, Pilger points out, that “WikiLeaks has exposed the way America dominates much of human affairs, including its epic crimes, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq: the wholesale, often homicidal killing of civilians”.

Challenging the criminal hegemony of the US-dominated global capitalist mafia remains the number one contemporary political heresy, it seems…

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5. Money, power and mining

“All the power’s in the hands
Of people rich enough to buy it”

As The Clash once pointed out, the close relationship between money and power is at the corrupt heart of our capitalist society.

Money buys power and money is used by those in power to ensure that money and power remain permanently in the same elite hands at the expense of the rest of the population and of the natural world.

Take, for instance, the experience of residents living close to the UK’s largest opencast coalmine at Ffos-y-Fran near Merthyr Tydfil in Wales.

Since 2007, they have been enduring what can only be described as a nightmare, with horrific levels of air and noise pollution, with cancer clusters and disturbingly high rates of childhood asthma.

Resident Alyson Austin told the BBC her family’s life had been ruined by the coal dust: “I find it difficult to put the washing out on the clothes line or enjoy my garden. On hot days we can’t even open the windows.”

Like good citizens, the locals went through all the “usual channels”, including a public inquiry, petitions, protests, High Court legal action and even a report from the UN’s special rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes.

But their complaints have been ignored and calls for an investigation into the health implications dismissed.

Five hundred locals attempted to take court action as a group, but their application was refused by the High Court “as they were deemed unable to afford it”.

Money always wins. The game is fixed. If you have no money then you have no say in a society where money, and greed for money, is king.

With the democratic process well and truly exhausted – and exposed as a sham – the only way forward was direct action.

Thus, in the early hours of 21 April 2017, under the banner of Earth First! and Reclaim the Power, a bunch of plucky rebels disrupted the mining operations.

At 5am, two of them blocked vehicle access to the mine by using D-locks and an armtube to lock onto the cattle grid at the entrance, while three others climbed down towards the bottom of the vast hole to lock onto the 300 tonne excavators used to extract coal (see video).

No coal mining took place all day.

The response from the system? Guilty of aggravated trespass, they were ordered to pay £10,000 compensation to Miller Argent, the company which is profiting from the misery of the people living alongside its environmentally disastrous mine.

A crowdfunding initiative has been launched to help the brave activists pay off this sum and we would urge people to help out if they can.

In the meantime, we are left with a useful reminder of the fact that the judicial system, in the UK as elsewhere, exists primarily to protect private property and private financial interests. It is designed not only to favour the rich, but to systematically punish the poor for their lack of wealth.

It’s a fraud, a scam, which is imposed on us using all the “authorised” violence of a state which has always existed to serve the interests not of ordinary people but of an arrogant ruling class which despises and exploits them in every way possible.

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6. Acorninfo

Ten thousand people took to the streets of Brussels on Wednesday May 24 to tell US president Donald Trump, and the imperialist warmongers of NATO, that they were not welcome in the Belgian capital. Said the No to NATO protest call-out: “NATO and its member states participate in illegal wars and military interventions, from Yugoslavia to Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. They contribute massively to international instability, fuelling the arms race and militarization. NATO remains committed to humanity’s biggest threat: nuclear weapons. NATO is the world’s most aggressive war machine. We must leave NATO and NATO must be dissolved.”

* * *

“By 2050, the US and UK will have evolved into two-class societies where a small elite lives a good life and there is declining well-being for the majority.” That is the prediction from Jorgen Randers, an academic and author of 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years. He adds: “Western nations are not going to collapse, but the smooth operation and friendly nature of Western society will disappear, because inequity is going to explode.” The process seems to be well underway…

* * *

A victory has been notched up in the battle to save one of the few museums in the world to be dedicated to the life and works of an anarchist. As we reported in Acorn 33, the Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis Museum at Heerenveen, in the Netherlands, celebrating one of the fathers of Dutch anarchism and libertarian socialism, was faced with closure and a petition was launched to keep it open. This has succeeded in persuading the municipal council of Heerenveen to lift the immediate threat to the museum.

* * *

Opponents of plans to frack in North Yorkshire have welcomed confirmation by Barclays that it plans to sell its stake in Third Energy. Barclays owns 97% of Third Energy, which has permission to frack for shale gas at its KM8 well at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire. Friends of the Earth described the decision as “a massive blow for the fracking industry” and urged them to keep up pressure on the bank.

* * *

Anti-fascists from across the UK are mobilising to oppose the Muslim-hating English Defence League in Liverpool on Saturday June 3. Email London Anti-fascists at ldnantifascists@riseup.net with the subject line COACH2LIVERPOOL to travel from the South of England.

* * *

Acorn quote: “Revolutionary movements do not spread by contamination but by resonance. Something that is constituted here resonates within the shock wave emitted by something constituted over there. A body that resonates does so according to its own mode. An insurrection is not like a plague or a forest fire – a linear process which spreads from place to place after an initial spark. It rather takes the shape of a music, whose focal points, though dispersed in time and space, succeed in imposing the rhythm of their own vibrations, always taking on more density. To the point that any return to normal is no longer desirable or even imaginable”.

Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection

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

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Follow Winter Oak on Twitter at @WinterOakPress

 

 

The Acorn – 15

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Number 15


In this issue:

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

1. Capitalism is built on violence and lies

g8cops2

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

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

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

prison

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

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

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

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

diggers

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

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

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

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

orgreave

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

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

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

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

policesurveillance

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

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

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

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

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2. Free the Love Bank Five!

Liverpool
This spring’s Liverpool occupation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Liverpool2

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

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

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

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

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

liverpool-loveactivistslogo

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

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

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

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3. Panic in high places

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

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

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

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

picket

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cameronandpig

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4. Resisting NATO in southern Europe

nato-1

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

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

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

nato3

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

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

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

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

NATO-2

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

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

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5. Blocking the death-dealers

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

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

Among the highlights of a successful mobilisation were:

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

DSEI5
Blockading the arms fair

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

dsei art

DSEI2

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

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6. Acorninfo

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

zadmarch

* * *

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

drone image

* * *

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

Gariwang
Mount Gariwang – devastated

* * *

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

stonehenge

* * *

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

Gustav Landauer, For Socialism

revolutionaries2

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

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The Acorn – 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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Follow Winter Oak on Twitter at @WinterOakPress

 

 

The Acorn – 11

acornmastheadnew

Number 11


In this issue:

  1. Delight as Lancashire rejects fracking bids
  2. Forget the lifeless Left – we want revolution!
  3. Sold out to the industry – GMB union backs fracking
  4. Marching for a Nicer Kind of Capitalism
  5. Sabotage attack on airport firm
  6. Anti-industrial rebellion in China
  7. Anti-industrial rebellion at the Vatican
  8. Acorninfo

1. Delight as Lancashire rejects fracking bids

frackdelight
Scenes of jubilation in Preston as Cuadrilla’s plans are rejected

A significant battle in the war against fracking was won by campaigners in northern England on Monday June 29.

Lancashire County Council rejected the second of two applications from Cuadrilla for large-scale fracking in the county in a decision that shocked the fracking business mafia.

Cuadrilla had hoped to drill four wells and undertake exploratory fracking for shale gas at Little Plumpton on the Fylde.

Share prices for fracking firms plummeted after the historic decision – it is now clearer than ever that there is a deep-seated and determined opposition across England to the frackers’ environmentally disastrous plans.

Greenpeace described Monday’s outcome as “a Waterloo for the fracking industry”.

John Williams of Poyry Management Consulting told the Daily Telegraph: “This decision is a serious setback for shale gas in the UK and many must be wondering if it can ever reach production phase”.

A tractor joins the celebrations in Preston
A tractor joins the celebrations in Preston

Although the planning committee had already turned down Cuadrilla’s proposal for Roseacre Farm between Preston and Blackpool, it had looked as if councillors might be bullied into approving the Preston New Road scheme.

They were given controversial legal advice suggesting it would be against the law to turn it down and reported feeling under intense pressure.

But in the end they voted against their officers’ recommendation to accept the bid and they also rejected a Cuadrilla application for seismic monitoring because “the cumulative effect of the proposal would lead to the industrialisation of the countryside and adversely affect the landscape character”.

Notably, two of the three councillors who voted in favour of fracking were representing the Labour Party – mirroring the support for the ecocidal fracking industry from the “left-wing” and Labour-affiliated GMB union (see below). Draw your own conclusions…

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2. Forget the lifeless Left – we want revolution!

anarchist-in-spain2

We live at a moment when the future not just of the human race, but of the planet is at risk.

The cancer of industrial capitalism, with its secondary tumours of militarism, imperialism and repression, is choking us all to death.

We need to rise up and cast off this disease, get off our knees and rediscover our collective inner strength and health.

But where is that inspiration going to come from? What is the banner behind which we can gather in order to wage philosophical and practical war on the system that is killing us all?

For the last couple of centuries the answer has been assumed to have something to do with the Left – the idea of a loose but nevertheless coherent body of thought and practice which stands in opposition to capitalism and its world.

But increasingly that answer is looking to be the wrong one and the lifeless Left is showing itself to be another aspect of the capitalist system, rather than something that challenges its existence.

As the leftists of the UK trade union movement sell out to the fracking industry (see below) and their reformist-left comrades in the UK “anti-austerity” movement continue their glorious struggle for a Nicer Kind of Capitalism (see here), a yawning void is appearing at the spot where there ought to be a resistance movement against the whole capitalist system.

The wretched failure of the Left to oppose industrial capitalism is so complete that by comparison the Roman Catholic Church is now looking positively radical (see here)!

We need to break out of the reformist strait jacket that “left-wing” thinking has put us in. We need to throw off the blinkers of its restrictions and inhibitions and look clearly and boldly into the eyes of the industrial-militarist-capitalist beast before thrusting a stake through its putrid heart.

stake through heart

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3. Sold out to the industry – GMB union backs fracking

GMB-Union-Steward
Protecting the industrial capitalist system – the GMB

The sickening pro-fracking stance of a British trade union is a useful reminder of how the “Left” has historically failed to fight industrial capitalism.

While people power in Lancashire was persuading the council to throw out fracking applications, the GMB was busy cosying up to the industry.

The GMB is a “general” trade union in the UK, affiliated to the TUC and the Labour Party and boasting more than 631,000 members.

As it proudly declares on its own website, its Northern Region recently had the bright idea of getting a briefing on the fracking issue. And who did these “leftists” ask? Frack Off perhaps? Friends of the Earth? Nope – they went straight to the Chemical Industry Association, the leading national trade association for the chemical and chemistry-using industries in the United Kingdom.

chemical_factory
Who cares about pollution if jobs are involved?

As a result of this briefing, on June 18 2015, the GMB concluded: “Given the fragility of the oil and gas sector due to price pressures, diversification through shale gas could well become a key employer within the energy sector.”

Billy Coates, GMB Northern Regional Secretary added: “The strategic importance of fracking within the UK’s balanced energy mix must not be ignored. Along with nuclear, renewables, green coal, oil and gas, fracking could be absolutely essential to achieving near self -sufficiency which will benefit domestic and business need.”

“Business need”? What sort of language is that for a trade union to adopt?

And this is not a one-off. It follows a statement from the GMB Congress on June 8 2015 which says that “while there are important considerations, the economic, indigenous energy and employment benefits cannot be ignored”.

The union has even done a deal with UKOOG, the front group representing the fracking industry in the UK.

It is shamelessly buying in to the whole fracking circus, admitting: “GMB has welcomed UKOOG’s development of the National College for Onshore Oil and Gas.  As part of this agreement, GMB will have a seat on the Operation and Advisory Council of the National College.”

Soviet factory

Here we have the heart of the problem that has afflicted the “Left” since back in the 19th century. At heart, it is not actually against the capitalist system, it just has certain minor quibbles with the way it is run.

But, of course, these left-capitalists are in denial about all this. They refuse to admit that industrialism and capitalism are essentially the same thing – that you cannot pretend to be against an economic system and yet wholeheartedly support the physical infrastructure that enables that system to maintain and expand its control.

They are also apparently incapable of seeing through the capitalist lie that there is something inherently good about “jobs” and are happy to fight for the “right” of their members to spend their lives as slaves to the global industrial greed-monster.

Even worse is the hypocrisy surrounding this, which echoes the hypocrisy of the ruling elite with their oxymoronic “sustainable development”.

The GMB, like others on the industrial left, seem to think they can claim to be “green” at the same time as cheerfully oiling the very machineries that are killing the planet.

It is with no apparent sense of irony that the pro-fracking union boasts on its website: “GMB is recognised both nationally and regionally as being the leading trade union on health, safety and environmental issues.”

The anti-fracking movement will hopefully ensure that from now on the GMB is instead recognised as a corrupt and cowardly collaborator with the business mafia which is destroying our planet for its own profit.

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4. Marching for a Nicer Kind of Capitalism

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Anarchists on the fringes as the anti-austerity parade files by

There were several good things about the anti-austerity march in London on Saturday June 20. One of these was the sheer numbers of people out on the streets – 250,000 according to the highest estimate.

Also encouraging were the visibility of the privacy bloc (handing out free masks), the high-profile presence of Class War and other anarchists, the use of flares and the bonfire of placards at Parliament Square.

j205
Burning placards in Parliament Square

There was also the breakaway wildcat march that crossed Waterloo Bridge and led to an impromptu blockading of the Elephant and Castle traffic system, as van loads of riot cops moved in.

But there were some depressing aspects to the day as well. The official event was always going to be an authorised “A to B” march, but this one at time felt more stage-managed than ever, not least because of the pre-arranged invisibility of police along the route (they were all hiding round the corner or mingling in disguise).

There was also something basically wrong about marching from the Bank of England instead of on it. The aim of the event was therefore not to lay siege to a symbol of capitalism but to get to Parliament Square and listen to Russell “#lovethepolice” Brand.

j204
The radical part of the march

And, of course, this was not a very radical collection of citizens, for all their good intent. Many of these were the kind of people who kid themselves that salvation might come from Jeremy Corbyn or wind turbines.

A lot of them are against neither the state (which they don’t want to be “cut”) nor even capitalism – just the worst excesses that they see incarnated by “The Tories”.

What do they want? A Nicer Kind of Capitalism! When do they want it? When the police say it’s OK!

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5.  Sabotage attack on airport firm

eurovia fire
Targeted – Vinci is a giant business involved in capitalist infrastructure

A million euros of damage was caused in a sabotage attack on a business involved in the Notre-Dame-des-Landes airport project.

Ten vehicles were destroyed in the fire at Eurovia’s premises near Limoges in central France, apparently started deliberately through placing bottles full of petrol on their wheels.

Eurovia is part of Vinci, a notorious international company heavily involved in all kinds of insidious capitalist infrastructure projects, notably motorways and prisons.

vinci poster
“From Notre-Dame-des-Landes to the Khimki Forest in Russia, Vinci is concreting over our lives. Resistance!”

Most famously, it is Public Enemy Number One of the ZAD protest camp which for many years has been protecting woodland near Nantes targeted for a new and unwanted airport.

But Vinci has also attracted criticism for its involvement in the equally unnecessary Bexhill-Hastings Link Road in Sussex and the motorway threatening the Khimki Forest in Russia, where opposition was met with brutal oppression.

A local industrial-leftist was on hand to condemn the Limoges sabotage. Philippe Loiraud, of the CGT trade union, told media that his biggest worry was (yes, you’ve guessed it…) jobs: “It’s disgraceful to go after a company because it’s the employees who will pay the cost.”

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6. Anti-industrial rebellion in China

shanghai2
Thousands march against industrial pollution in China

Massive resistance to industrialism continues to spread across China, as thousands of people take to the streets in anger.

On the evening of Thursday June 25, some 5,000 people marched through Shanghai to oppose the building of a new chemical factory in the suburb of Jinshui.

The protests had been going on all week and included a non-stop picket of the Jinshui District Government building.

shanghai
Environmental protests are spreading across China as neoliberalism wrecks the country

The factory in question would be manufacturing PX (paraxylene), a flammable chemical used in polyester and plastics manufacturing and a major contributor to air pollution, especially the deadly particulate PM2.5.

Reports Revolution News: “Pollution and the construction of PX plants has sparked many protests, including violent demonstrations that lasted 3 days last year in Maoming, Guangdong province.”

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7. Anti-industrial rebellion at the Vatican

Layout 1

“The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth.

“Economic powers continue to justify the current global system where priority tends to be given to speculation and the pursuit of financial gain.”

These are the views not of an anti-capitalist “extremist” but of the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis.

In a hard-hitting anti-industrial statement, worth reading in full if you can stomach the religious bits, he announces the Vatican’s policy of “integral ecology”.

The church seems particularly to want to influence policies over climate change and has already invited Naomi Klein on board.

The language of the Pope’s statement is interesting – he refers to the rather pagan notion of Mother Earth, adding: “We have forgotten that we ourselves are dust of the earth; our very bodies are made up of her elements, we breathe her air and we re­ceive life and refreshment from her waters.

“Nature cannot be regarded as something separate from ourselves or as a mere setting in which we live. We are part of nature, included in it and thus in constant interaction with it”.

The Pope refers to Mother Earth
The Pope refers to Mother Earth

The Pope is very clear throughout that he is not only addressing his Christian flock, but “every person living on this planet”.

He says: “Regrettably, many efforts to seek concrete solutions to the environmental crisis have proved ineffective, not only because of powerful opposition but also because of a more general lack of interest. Obstructionist attitudes, even on the part of believers, can range from denial of the problem to indifference, nonchalant resignation or blind confidence in technical solutions. We require a new and universal solidarity”.

The fake solution of "green" technology is rejected by the Vatican
The fake solution of “green” technology is rejected by the Vatican

Importantly, Pope Francis rejects the argument, much favoured by the industrial left, that technology can be used to repair the devastation it has caused.

He writes: “We must be grateful for the praiseworthy efforts being made by scientists and engineers dedicated to finding solutions to man-made problems. But a sober look at our world shows that the degree of human intervention, often in the service of business interests and consumerism, is actually making our earth less rich and beautiful, ever more limited and grey, even as technological advances and consumer goods continue to abound limitlessly.”

Layout 1

The Pope (pictured above) also acknowledges that any action to combat the destruction of the planet by industry is always blocked by the business mafia who have control over our society: “There are too many special interests, and economic interests easily end up trumping the common good and manipulating information so that their own plans will not be affected.”

“The alliance between the economy and technology ends up sidelining anything unrelated to its immediate interests.

“Consequently the most one can expect is superficial rhetoric, sporadic acts of philanthropy and perfunctory expressions of concern for the environment, whereas any genuine attempt by groups within society to introduce change is viewed as a nuisance based on romantic illusions or an obstacle to be circumvented.”

He attacks the very notion of infinite economic “growth” at the heart of the capitalist system: “It is based on the lie that there is an infinite supply of the earth’s goods, and this leads to the planet being squeezed dry beyond every limit”.

Land rights activists in the Pope's native Argentina
Land rights activists in the Pope’s native Argentina

Pope Francis also brings a social dimension into the equation, saying this cannot be separated from environmental issues, and notably takes a vague swipe at the idea of private property, a bulwark of the current system.

He argues: “The Christian tradition has never recognized the right to private property as absolute or inviolable, and has stressed the social purpose of all forms of private property” and adds that “the natural environment is a collective good, the patrimony of all humanity and the responsibility of everyone”.

Whatever one’s opinions of the Catholic Church, its own nefarious history and its reactionary position on many other issues, it is surely a cause for encouragement when the leader of a religion boasting 1.2 billion members comes out so strongly in favour against the lie of “growth” and the whole industrial capitalist system.

More to the point, why isn’t the “Left” saying all this?

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8. Acorninfo

Disabled protesters put their anti-austerity comrades to shame by trying to storm the House of Commons chamber during Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday June 24. They were protesting against the government’s decision to end the Independent Living Fund. There are videos here and here.

disabledprotest

* * *

Climate vs Capitalism is the title of a free workshop being staged at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, on Wednesday July 15. It is being run by the Corporate Watch workers’ co-op and hosted by Sussex Anarchists. “We want to be clear that we are coming from a certain political perspective: anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian, and that certain things will not be up for discussion. How can we avoid falling into the traps of green jobs, green growth, or green capitalism? How can we stop a radical climate movement being co-opted by those that seeking to reform rather than replace existing political and economic systems? How can we break the stranglehold of capitalist realism on our political imaginations? Capitalist realism is the idea that there is no alternative to capitalism”. All welcome.

climate v capitalism

* * *

A day of “creative action” against an Israeli drone factory is being staged near Walsall in the UK on Monday July 6. The date is the anniversary of last summer’s assault on Gaza, which killed more than 2,200 Palestinians in the latest brutal chapter in Israel’s ongoing occupation and colonisation. The massacre was carried out using drones manufactured by Israeli arms company Elbit Systems. In response, activists occupied Elbit’s factory in Shenstone, causing its operations to grind to a halt and costing Elbit over £100,000. Another Elbit occupation was staged in Kent in February. Now groups and campaigners from across the UK are going back to Elbit’s factory in Shenstone to demand that the UK stops arming Israel. More info at https://www.blockthefactory.org

Elbit shenstone

* * *

The reality behind much so-called journalism has been helpfully revealed by a bizarre TV interview with a Sunday Times journalist. In what campaign group Media Lens is calling “a laugh-out-loud, four-minute interview on CNN that should be shown to journalism students from now until the end of eternity”, alleged journalist Tom Harper tried to reply to questions about “his” scoop on how Edward Snowden’s leaked files were putting British spies at risk. The whole story had clearly been planted in the Murdoch title by the British intelligence services. At one point Harper even helpfully admitted: “We just publish what we believe to be the position of the British government”.

Tom Harper of the Sunday Times explains how the corporate media works
Tom Harper of the Sunday Times explains how the corporate media works

* * *

The politics of technology are the focus of a gathering in Derbyshire, England, from July 9 to 12 2015. Breaking the Frame 2 has been organised by Corporate Watch, Luddites200 and others. Workshops will focus on the technology politics of food, the workplace, privacy/policing, gender, energy, health, militarism, mining and infrastructure.

breaking the frame2

* * *

Terrorism and cyber security were among the issues being discussed in secret by the neoliberal elite at the 2015 Bilderberg summit in Austria, held immediately following and just 16 miles south of the G7 summit. The situation in Greece was also on the agenda, according to the BBC.  Commented Charlie Skelton in his Guardian blog: “When it comes to transparency, this year’s Bilderberg summit fails in every way imaginable. Three prime ministers, two foreign ministers, one president, no press conference. No public oversight. Just a bunch of senior policymakers locked away for three days with some incredibly powerful corporate lobbyists, discussing subjects intimately related to public policy. Subjects such as ‘globalisation’ and ‘current economic issues’, which in practical terms mean the giant trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).”

Protests at the Bilderberg conference

* * *

Twentieth century anarchist George Woodcock is the focus of the latest issue of Anarchist Studies magazine. Vol 23 No 1 also includes reviews of Paul Cudenec’s The Anarchist Revelation, published by Winter Oak (“well -researched and written in a lively style… highly readable and engaging”) and the excellent Managing Democracy, Managing Dissent, edited by Rebecca Fisher of Corporate Watch.

Anarchist Studies cover

* * *

Acorn quote: “In a word, we reject all legislation – privileged, licensed, official and legal – and all authority, and influence, even though they may emanate from universal suffrage, for we are convinced that it can turn only to the advantage of a dominant minority of exploiters against the interests of the vast majority in subjection to them. It is in this sense that we are really Anarchists”. Michael (Mikael) Bakunin, The Knouto-Germanic Empire and the Social Revolution.

anarchists-in-london

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

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The Acorn – 10

acornmastheadnew

Number 10

Print version here


In this issue:

  1. Growing revolt on UK streets
  2. Spirited resistance to G7 capitalists
  3. Fracking liars are targeted
  4. Fighting capitalism’s domination of our lives
  5. Nasa people fight for “the liberation of Mother Earth”
  6. Technology out of control
  7. Acorninfo

1. Growing revolt on UK streets

brightondemo
Saturday’s protest in Brighton

A growing mood of angry defiance of the capitalist system has been in evidence on the streets of the UK in recent weeks.

The latest instance took place in Brighton on Saturday June 6, where a large anti-austerity protest in the city culminated in the storming of the former Barclays bank at Preston Circus.

Brightonsquat1
Occupied – the former Barclays Bank at Preston Circus

A new radical alternative community space is being created there – “a space for organising actions to challenge all recent and ongoing political events”. The wish list includes camping stoves, cutlery, cups, plates, bowls, pans, duvets, sleeping bags, sofas, mattresses, books and clothes.

may 27 london
Carswell is protected from the “mob” by the Met Police

In another recent incident, far right-wing politician Douglas Carswell (UKIP’s only MP) was targeted by what he laughably described as a “murderous lynch mob” during anti-capitalist protests in London on Wednesday May 27.

Protesters succeeded in breaking through police cordons during the protests in Westminster against the Queen’s Speech announcing the latest neoliberal government agenda.

may 27 london4
Protesting against neoliberal “austerity” in London on May 27

Carswell told the corporate press: “Out of nowhere a mob, over 100 strong, and it got incredibly nasty. I mean this was a lynch mob on the streets of London. It was an incredibly violent nasty mob and I was shocked”.

Hundreds also took to the streets of Liverpool on the same day. They held a sit-in protest on the Strand, bringing rush-hour traffic to a standstill, then demonstrated outside the Capital Building in Old Hall Street, before blockading the entrance to the Queensway Tunnel – leaving cars stranded underground – and over-running the main terminal at Lime Street station.

May27liverpool3
The May 27 protest in Liverpool
May27liverpool2
Spot the difference – Liverpool on May 27

Local media reported that the protesters included “anarchists” and people “wearing Guy Fawkes masks”.

The next big anti-austerity protest in London is on Saturday June 20 assembling at 12 noon outside the Bank of England in Queen Victoria Street (Bank tube station).

The Rabble anarchist website notes: “If a Tory government prompts more people to join us on the streets, we say it’s a good thing”.

June20

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2. Spirited resistance to G7 capitalists

g7 - banner2
Resisting capitalism in Germany

Spirited resistance has been taking place against the neoliberal G7 jamboree in the German Alps over the last few days.

A measure of the protests’ success was that delegates were all brought in to the remote rural venue by helicopter, rather than by road as had been planned.

The demonstrations began on Thursday June 4, with a massive 35,000-strong demo in Munich against the G7 and the neoliberal TTIP trade treaty.

g7-munich

By Friday, police were setting up road checks around the protest camp near the resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the summit venue of Elmau Castle. More than 20,000 cops were deployed to protect the leaders of the capitalist world from the public.

g7-lineofcops
Cops protecting the destroyers of the planet

Some 400 people demonstrated against militarism and the NATO-linked George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies, burning a cardboard tank.

g7-burningtank
Opposing militarism and the G7

On Saturday, a 7,500-strong demo in Garmisch Partenkirchen was attacked by the police. According to paramedics at least 60 people were injured by pepper spray and several people suffered baton blows to the head, neck and face – four of them had to be taken to hospital.

g7 - saturday4

Said a spokesman for the Stop G7 alliance: “The brutal police attacks were unjustified. The responsibility for the escalation clearly lies with the police! Police attacked people who were sitting down.”

Sunday saw the Sternmarsch (star march), as various groups of protesters walked towards the summit venue from different directions.

g7 - sunday2
A beautiful spot for a protest

300 people managed to get out of the protest camp and block the B2 road north of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, but were attacked by police and forced to turn back. A smaller blockade on the road between Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Kaltenbrunn was cleared by the police.

g7 - sunday5
Blocking the road to the summit – delegates had to be flown in by helicopter

Hundreds of protesters reached the fence around the venue and tried to find a way through towards the castle – with “cat and mouse” games with cops in the woods. But the sheer numbers of police prevented any serious breach.

g7 - sunday3
At the fence

While some argue that the time for anti-summit protests is over, the alternative is to allow the likes of Cameron, Merkel and Obama an unopposed platform for their propaganda.

The sight of thousands of people prepared to stand up to them – and being brutally attacked by mercenary thugs for daring to do – is in itself a powerful statement.

The importance of the event for the G7 leaders is mainly symbolic and resistance challenges them on that important symbolic level.

The 2016 summit is due to be held in Japan and the 2017 one in Italy.

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3. Fracking liars are targeted

RTP Media-Zoo-occupation
Occupying the offices of fracking spin doctors Media Zoo

Professional liars working for the fracking industry were targeted as part of the Reclaim the Power day of action on Monday June 1.

The London offices of Edelman and Media Zoo PR were targeted by activists, with seven arrests made at the latter agency, according to shocked corporate website PR Week.

The campaigners occupied the lobby of Media Zoo offices in Imperial Wharf with a banner reading: “Fracking is shit. You can’t polish a turd”.

The protests were among 18 carried out on the day across the UK. Other highlights included the blockade of the neoliberal Institute of Directors in London, which was hosting a conference on coal, and a protest on the steps of the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

Fracking firm Cuadrilla was also targeted, as were investment management sharks Invesco and nuclear industry PR whores Camargue.

There is a full report on the Reclaim the Power website.

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4.  Fighting capitalism’s domination of our lives

by Collectif Faut pas pucer, France (radical shepherds and shepherdesses)

sivens - sheep

Capitalism’s domination of our lives has to be fought on at least two fronts. One of these is today clearly seen and understood by more and more people – it’s opposing all those infrastructure projects which manage areas so that commodities can circulate and various industries can function.

This means the construction (or the extension) of high-speed rail lines, airports, power stations (whether nuclear, solar, wind or biomass…), commercial centres, the mass production of toxic foodstuffs, the sinking of fracking wells. In a very obvious way, all this destroys the countryside and covers farmland and forests with concrete.

sivens10
Protests against a dam in Sivens, France

But there’s also another front which hasn’t been clearly identified and activated by enough people yet: opposing the colonisation of our lives by hi-tech devices. PCs, tablets, iPods, iPads, iPhones and the networks that support them cause colossal amounts of pollution and energy consumption, which put the effects of industrial agriculture in the shade.

Pollution through microwaves, pollution through manufacturing and disposal, power consumption by the devices, by search engines, by data centres…

We would need Zads [anti-industrial protest camps] in China, Africa and Bolivia to stop the extraction of rare earth metals needed to manufacture all the wonders of technology. We would need Zads in Ghana to stop the burial of all our junk made of plastic and toxic metals – last year’s novelties discarded with the arrival of the latest new product.

We would need Zads in Mali and Niger to fight against the mining of uranium to feed the nuclear industry (which in turn feeds the internet in France).

We feel a sense of solidarity with all every one of those Zads… even if, unfortunately, they don’t exist!

An environmental activist confronts a riot policeman securing a construction site in the Sivens forest, as clearing has started in preparation of the Sivens dam construction, on September 9, 2014 near Gaillac, in the Tarn region. Although the construction of the dam would help supply water to nearby farms, it would remove a 13 hectares long reservoir of biodiversity. Proponents of the dam - including the FDSEA (Departemental Federation of syndicated farmers) - deemed necessary to secure water supplies for farmers. Opponents - backed by French Europe Ecologie Les Verts (EELV) green party member of the European Parliament - are moved by the disappearance of a wetland sheltering 94 protected species and therefore denounce the projected irrigated agricultural model. AFP PHOTO / REMY GABALDA
Confronting the gendarmes at Sivens

Extract taken from the book Sivens sans retenue: Feuilles d’automne 2014.

sivens - book

There is a review of the book on Paul Cudenec’s blog site.

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5. Nasa people fight for “the liberation of Mother Earth”

colombia

It is far too easy , from a European point of view, to imagine that the main struggle against the global capitalist system is taking place right here, in the heart of what used to be called Western Civilization.

But, of course, people all across the world are constantly hacking away at the tentacles of the neoliberal octopus, below the radar not just of the corporate media but also of sites like this one.

For instance, indigenous groups from the southwest of Colombia have been clashing with police over the past few weeks in a long-running battle over land, reveals colombiareports. com.

Colombia3
Resisting private land ownership in Colombia

The Nasa indigenous people are fighting back against private ownership of their ancestral homeland and have been occupying land in Corinto, northern Cauca, since December.

This latest initiative is part of a broader “liberation of Mother Earth” undertaken against the state-authorised theft of large swathes of land in Colombia by the likes of Incauca, an agro-industrial sugar cane company

“They are ancestral lands and we are demanding that the government hand them over to us,” explained Nasa rebel, Feliciano Valencia.

The Nasa have bravely resisted massive operations by the National Police to try and dislodge them – tanks, helicopters and riot police have descended on the rural municipality to uproot what has been described by the Colombian state as an “illegal occupation of private property”.

The police have destroyed many of the Nasa crops in the area and burned their sacred meeting place.

Police claim that the Nasa have armed themselves with improvised explosives and have used gas masks to resist attempts to evict them, but the Nasa point out that the real violence comes from the police, the state and the capitalist system itself, starting with the original theft of land on which its wealth and power is based.

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6. Technology out of control

carparking2
Machines tend not to respect human life

Somehow, it just sums it all up – technology, the motivation behind technology, the total expendability of human flesh in the brave new robot world…

This video of a ‘self-parking’ car ploughing into two journalists has apparently “gone viral”. It is quite funny, given that they weren’t badly hurt, but is also rather telling.

The incident happened, it has emerged, because the car did not have the “pedestrian detection” feature installed. This, of course, according to capitalist logic, is an optional feature that you have to pay extra for.

A regard for human life is not built in to the technology that dominates our world. This technology only exists because of somebody’s desire to make money. At any cost.

And once it has been created and programmed, there is nothing inside a machine that will make it think twice about crushing any living creature that inconveniently gets in its way.

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7. Acorninfo

A street party against the gentrification of part of London has been called for Saturday July 11. Says the call-out for The Fuck Parade Strikes Back: “The heart of Camden is being ripped out, pubs are being converted to luxury flats no one can afford, the market is flogged off to be a casino (and yet more unaffordable flats) Rents are rising… fast. Soon this community will be an unrecognisable, bland, yuppie infested wasteland with no room for normal (and not so normal) people. Camden is a unique place and worth defending against this onslaught of dog-eat-dog economics. Music will be provided by 12v bike sound systems and merriment by the Camden massive. Meet outside Camden tube station from 7pm.”

FuckParade2

* * *

A national anti-fracking protest is being held in Preston on Tuesday June 23, with coaches being laid on from all over the country. On that day, Lancashire County Council will be deciding on whether or not to approve two of the biggest fracking tests ever contemplated in the UK. If allowed to happen, each site would have 4 horizontal wells, producing tens of millions of gallons and radioactive and toxic waste and opening the door to thousands more wells to be drilled across Lancashire, and the rest of the UK. Lancashire County Hall will be the focus of a show of solidarity and resistance. Details of how to book coach places and accommodation are available online.

TheFrackStopsHere2

* * *

Rebels in Oakland, USA, have responded with defiance to a curfew on protests imposed by local authorities in the face of increased levels of resistance, announcing an ongoing series of “Fuck the Curfew” demos. An article on the Fireworks website – Anarchist Counterinformation Project for the Bay Area – says: “In the face of the collapse of capitalist civilization, over the last few years in the Bay Area resistance has been brewing. From occupied universities to blocked freeways, and from massive assemblies in plazas to wildcat strikes and blocked ports. It is not only the riots that those in power want to smash, but also the collective confidence that grows from within a generation of young people who are faced with no future and have begun to get organized and strike back.”

oaklandnightprotest
Protesting after dark in Oakland, USA

* * *

“Government plans to enact a ‘domestic extremism’ law, announced in the Queen’s Speech, threaten to make thought criminals of all who challenge the established order. At risk are campaigners, protestors, journalists and all who dissent from Britain’s neoliberal corporatocracy.” Thus writes Donnachadh McCarthy of Occupy Democracy in an article in The Ecologist. See also our piece on “democracy” in Acorn 9.

queenspeech

* * *

Rioting, indigenous struggles and insurrectionary feminism – these are some of the contents of an excellent new magazine from Canada. Wreck is a print-based anarchist publication from Vancouver, BC (Coast Salish Territories). It declares: “Because capital consumes our lives and leave us in the ruins when the damage is so complete we have no profit left to give. Because this world gnaws at our spirit and shatters our being. Because this system has nothing we are interested in taking and nothing we are interested in saving. Because we see a day when this colonial ship, its project, and legacy that surrounds us, is only wreckage on the beach. Because that is the only thing left for us to do – reduce the world to shambles to open up possibilities of something new.”

wreckcover

* * *

Acorn quote: “So we now have an emergent robot state, which I have called the cybernarchy. It is as if a new mega-individual has evolved somewhere in the gap between political leaders and people, and it is pursuing a course of self-perpetuation regardless of any other consideration. This mega-individual is a feltwork of flesh and micro-chips, looking after itself at the expense of people”. Kit Pedler (creator of “Cybermen” on Dr Who TV show), The Quest for Gaia: A Book of Changes

cybermen

(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

London protest cops
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.”

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“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?

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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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