The Acorn – 50

acorn 2019b

Number 50

In this issue:

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

1. Guerrilla war against “smart” fascism

linky5

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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2. Smearing and cheering for the system

matrix mr smiths

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anton-Mukhamedov
Anton Mukhamedov

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

big-pharma

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

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

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

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

Alexander Reid Ross
Alexander Reid Ross

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Iraq War
Just another humanitarian intervention

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

anti war weather
Reactionaries infiltrating left-wing spaces?

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

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

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

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

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

Idrees ahmad
Idrees Ahmad

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

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

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

daphne-lawless
Daphne Lawless

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hadi and John Kerry
Hadi with John Kerry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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3. Manipulating Greta

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4. Fighting fracking in Fermanagh

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by ‘Fracking is stoppable, another world is possible!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Ferdinand Tönnies

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

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

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

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

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5. Journalism for a world beyond capitalism

journalist

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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6. Hyperlooping towards environmental disaster!

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by Shoal Collective

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

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

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

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

hyperloop

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

cement industry

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

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

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

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

Solar-panel-factory

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

hyperloop ruskin
John Ruskin

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

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

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

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

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

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7. Miguel Amorós: an orgrad inspiration

Miguel amoros2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

miguel amoros

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

From the orgrad website.

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

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8. Acorninfo

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

FreeAssangechalk

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

GJjimicullen

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

Brandalism-Guide

* * *

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

guatemala

* * *

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

raoul

* * *

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

wef2020

* * *

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

smart city toronto

* * *

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

plastic pollution

* * *

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

Gustav Landauer

tierra_y_libertad

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

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The Acorn – 40

acornmastheadnew1

Number 40


In this issue:

  1. Stop fracking before it’s too late!
  2. An airport defeated, a capitalist system still to be toppled
  3. The murky world of US “counter-disinformation”
  4. Time’s up for the fake neoliberal “left”
  5. Acorninfo

1. Stop fracking before it’s too late!

The fight against fracking in the north of England is to be dramatically intensified with three months of intense direct action against the sinister and toxic industry.

The newly-launched United Resistance group is promising significant levels of activity, starting in April, when Cuadrilla says it expects to begin fracking at its Preston New Road site near Blackpool.

Say United Resistance: “The situation is urgent and it is only a united and powerful resistance that will halt fracking before it’s too late – and we’re on the threshold of it being too late.

“If the industry performs a ‘frack job’ then the damage is done and stopping them becomes a far greater challenge.

“Sites across the UK are making a stand with residents taking part in community meetings, rallies and non-violent direct actions; here in Lancashire, we know that Cuadrilla intends on pushing the chemicals, silica sand and vast quantities of water underground between April and July.”

“We are asking nothing more of you than your body and if you can’t bring us this… then your online shares, letter writing, local actions and events… but mostly, we need you here with us for any part of  three months of targeted resistance starting 2nd April 2018.”

Campaigner Tina Rothery’s blog reveals that the initiative will see different groups ‘adopting’ a week each in order to bring about maximum resistance to the fracking industry.

She says: “The first week has been adopted by the women of Nanashire as well as women from the weekly Call for Calm, the local area, other groups and camps”.

Tina calls on women to take time off work and arrange care so that they can be available at Preston New Road in Lancashire “to exercise our lawful right to peaceful protest and non-violent action”.

Meanwhile, in Yorkshire, Frack Free Ryedale and Frack Free United have organised a series of talks in eight villages about INEOS’s shale gas exploration plans in the area – for full details see the Drill or Drop website.

Opponents of fracking point to the large number of fracking bans, moratoria and restrictions across Europe, “every single one of them powered by ordinary people standing up against a corrupt political system”.

As one local group in Yorkshire put it: “We can do this – standing together against fracking is the only way we can make a difference and stop the destruction of our beautiful villages and countryside”.

There are strong signs that the battle is winnable. When Conservative-controlled Derbyshire County Council rejected INEOS plans to explore for shale gas at Bramleymoor Lane in the village of Marsh Lane on Monday February 5, it was the fourth time in under a fortnight that an English council had opposed shale gas plans.

The message is clear and simple: people power can defeat fracking. And the death-breathing industrial capitalist dragon of which it is just one poisonous fang.

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2. An airport defeated, a capitalist system still to be toppled

A huge victory party is being staged at Notre-Dame-des-Landes near Nantes in France on Saturday February 10, after the French state finally abandoned plans to build a new airport there after 50 years of resistance and occupation.

Now the struggle will revolve around resisting the authorities’ declared intention of evicting the ZAD autonomous zone which was the focal point of the successful long-term campaign.

There has already been a reaction amongst more radical campaigners against the idea that now the airport has been scrapped, everyone can pack up and go home happy.

Said one statement: “True, the airport project has been abandoned… Certainly, it is a victory for the struggle against the airport of Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

“But many of us have fought and supported the struggle against the airport and its world. The capitalist world, to tell the truth, the world of economic and social inequalities, the world of oppression and exclusion. Is this struggle victorious? And if it is not, how can it still radiate towards other struggles against useless and imposed mega projects?

“Since January 17, we are no longer fighting against this airport, but we are still fighting against its world and its allies. What is happening now in this struggle is also happening in many other struggles, environmental or social.”

The ZAD Forever website says, regarding February 10: “We will celebrate the fact that this unique landscape of forests, fields and wetlands will never be turned into a giant machine for burning the climate, never!

“It is also is a victory of all those who have put their bodies in the way of the machines for decades, a victory for a truly popular movement that brought so many differences together into a rich composition, a victory for an unimaginable diversity of tactics from sabotage to petition writing, direct action to mass demos, it a victory for all those who live on within this bocage (the name of this specific type of landscape, a rich chequerboard of small fields, hedgerows and forests) and are trying to reinvent forms of life together, despite capitalism and the state.

“The 10th of February will a day to celebrate the burying of the project, to show that the ZAD is here to stay, that we are going to continue to grow roots deep down into this territory and to demonstrate our solidarity with other struggles against destructive projects around the world”.

People are being invited to bring saplings, bushes and shrubs to plant and enrich the hedgerows and to come dressed for carnival in Green One style.

“Marching bands, a giant fire-breathing salamander and other mythical beasts, will lead the crowds through the zone towards a convergence point where everyone is invited to put effigies (in wood, paper or cardboard) of unwanted projects against which they are resisting into a giant bonfire with a big surprise at its heart ! With a plethora of musicians, bands and invited Dj’s, we will dance and feast together late into the night.”

The joint press release put out by a range of airport opponents on January 17 declared: “This is an historical victory against a destructive project. This was made possible thanks to a long mobilisation that has been both diverse and determined.

“First of all, we’d like to sincerely thank everyone that mobilised against this airport project over the past 50 years.

“As regard to the future of the ZAD, the whole movement would like to confirm the following points:

“The need for the farmers and people that were expropriated to recover their rights as soon as possible

“The refusal of any eviction of those who came here over the last few years to live and defend the place, and who wish to continue living here and look after the area.

“The will to let the various actors of the struggle (farmers, naturalists, locals, groups, people that have lived here for a long time or have just joined us) handle, on the long term, the land/fields of the ZAD.”

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3. The murky world of US “counter-disinformation”

More light has been shed on the murky network of dodgy organisations behind the current anti-Russian and “fake news” hysteria, designed (as we explained in Acorn 39) as the perfect pretext for a fascistic clamp-down on all online news and views unwelcome to the global capitalist elite.

On this side of the Atlantic, it has emerged that the European Commission’s “High Level Expert Group” investigating unauthorised news is, as the anti-capitalist commentator Civic Critic points out, “made up of Google, Facebook and Twitter employees, plus appointees chosen by centrist US-aligned media”.

And in the USA on January 10 a significant Senate report on the subject was unveiled, which dresses up its real agenda with a flurry of inflated claims about Russia’s “malign influence operations”.

Corporate media such as CNN faithfully lapped all this up, of course, and gushed obligingly about “Russia’s arsenal of military invasions, disinformation campaigns and corruption, and its weaponization of energy resources”.

But, more significantly, the report calls on companies such as Facebook and Twitter to be held more “accountable” because “social media platforms are a key conduit of disinformation that undermines democracies”.

Read that last quote again! This is chilling stuff. In neoliberal language, “disinformation campaigns” which “undermine democracies” of course include factual reports which happen to reveal inconvenient truths about US military and economic global domination.

The agenda is clear. The genie of uncensored information unleashed by the internet is threatening neoliberal power and must urgently be pushed back into the totalitarian bottle of elite control.

The “who” and “where” of the Senate report’s presentation are also useful indicators of the political agenda which fuels its claims.

It was unveiled to the world by veteran US Democrat politician Ben Cardin, whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s forthcoming election opponent.

Ben Cardin launches the report

Cardin is known for his vehemently pro-Israel stance. As The Intercept points out, “Cardin’s crowning achievement came last year when he authored a bill that would have made it a felony to support a boycott of Israel”.

And the “where”? Cardin launched the report at the HQ of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, which, as we reported in Acorn 39, has been leading the propaganda campaign against so-called fake news, partly through its front organisation, the Alliance for Securing Democracy.

Following on from our articles, we have been pointed towards some further fascinating information about the GMF on the Powerbase website.

It notes that the GMF was conceived during the Cold War to tie Europe to the United States and was “a breeding ground for journalists, university students and politicians committed to Atlantism”.

The GMF was set up in 1972 at a time of widespread protest against the US war in Vietnam, it adds. The Red Army Fraction had just attacked the US Army HQ in Heidelberg to destroy the strategic computer that controlled its bombers in South-East Asia.

“It was also the time of the strategy of tension whereby NATO secret services manipulated right and left-wing factions to encourage a more authoritarian government.

“The idea behind the Fund was that it would facilitate the identification and recruitment of new ‘messengers of Atlantism’. With the collapse of the cold war the neoconservatives have reactivated the Atlantic networks, to use in their own project dominated by two terms coined by Joseph Nye: ‘Neo-liberalism’ and ‘soft power’.”

In the light of all this, it comes as little surprise to discover, on a close reading of the report, that talk of the so-called “threat” from Russia is nothing but a thinly-disguised geopolitical call for action to defend US global corporate imperialism.

It claims, for instance, that bogeyman Putin has “made it a priority of his regime to attack the democracies of Europe and the United States and undermine the transatlantic alliance upon which Europe’s peace and prosperity have depended upon for over 70 years”.

It also says the US government should continue to oppose the construction of their rivals’ Nord Stream 2 pipeline, “a project which significantly undermines the long-term energy security of Europe and the economic prospects of Ukraine”.

So that’ll be the famous “weaponization of energy resources” – moves which undermine European states’ complete dependence on the US capitalist system.

The same twisted Cold War mentality also sees the report claim that the European anti-fracking movement is being secretly supported by the Russians, in order to keep the continent “more dependent on Russian supplies”.

Anti-fracking Nanas in Lancashire – part of Putin’s fiendish plot to undermine the transatlantic alliance?

And all the talk of “fake news” really concerns a propaganda war being waged by the US to maintain the economic, military and cultural occupation of Europe, originally just Western Europe, that it has maintained since the end of the Second World War.

When the report writes of “disinformation and conspiracy theories that seek to undermine European institutions like the EU and NATO” that’s what it’s all about. Control. From the US imperialist point of view, any information that threatens its interests is automatically “disinformation”. Any analysis of the underhand activities of the CIA, NATO etc is automatically “conspiracy theories”. Any news it doesn’t like is automatically “fake news”.

The talk of dastardly Russian attempts to “break centrist consensus” by supporting “extreme” political parties reflects US fears that its own placemen (“centrists” like Tony Blair and Emmanuel Macron) will no longer be able to ensure that Europe is under the American military-corporate thumb.

The language is coded but nevertheless clear. “Democratic” always translates as “capitalist”, while “transatlantic values” refer to the US strings attached to European puppet-politics, as in the statement that “Merkel’s Germany has led the defense of transatlantic values that underlie open, democratic societies”.

The report makes it plain that any method is considered fair in this propaganda war in defence of the US Empire, talking blatantly about creating “narratives” that suit US objectives.

It states at one point: “The RAND analysts also recommend not just countering the actual propaganda, but its intended effects. For example, if the Kremlin is trying to undercut support for a strong NATO response to Russian aggression, then the West should promote narratives that strengthen support for NATO and promote solidarity with NATO members facing threats from Russia.”

So what would “promoting a narrative” involve, then? Inventing threats from Russia to drum up support for NATO? It certainly sounds that way!

It’s interesting to note that the report itself does not talk about the US publishing information, as in true information, to counter “Russian disinformation”, but rather something called “counter-disinformation”.

The hub for this, it tells us, is the Global Engagement Center, within the State Department, which is “tasked with coordinating counter-disinformation efforts across the US government”.

It includes personnel from the Department of Defense, Department of Treasury, National Security Agency, National Counterterrorism Center, the Broadcasting Board of Governors and, of course, the CIA.

In case there were any lingering doubts about what kind of “fake news” and “disinformation” the CIA and its chums are keen to stamp out, there are a couple of telling mentions of President Macron of France, a particular favourite of the neoliberal establishment.

The report complains that “during the French presidential elections, Sputnik reported on unfounded rumors about the sexual preferences of the pro-EU candidate, Emmanuel Macron”.

It adds later: “Reports disseminated by these outlets and on pro-Kremlin social media had variously decried Macron as a puppet of US political and business leaders, alleged he held an offshore account in the Bahamas to evade taxes, and fueled rumors of an extra-marital gay relationship, which Macron publicly denied.”

Obviously any suggestion that Macron is a puppet of the US (and in fact a product of the US Marshall Memorial Fellowship scheme!) is the sort of dreadful slander that should never be allowed to see the light of day in any self-respecting freedom-loving centrist democracy, committed to transatlantic values.

Macron is much appreciated in Washington, DC

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4. Time’s up for the fake neoliberal “left”

A powerful backlash is underway against the ideological sabotage which has been undermining anti-capitalism for the last few decades.

Since the turn of the century, radical political thought in the West has increasingly been infected by self-defeating tendencies which destroy its coherency and energy from the inside.

But now it  is starting to shake off the debilitating intellectual malady and is reasserting its own inspiring vision of a world beyond capitalism.

People are turning their backs on the defeatist analysis that suggests there is no point in identifying and opposing the current system and its ruling class.

They are refusing to sign up to an ultra-liberal pseudo-radical agenda which promotes individualism in a fake-leftist guise and which can only imagine collective levels of oppression and resistance within the limits of the intersectionality of purely individual experiences.

One important recent intervention came from the anarchist thinker Miguel Amorós in the course of two talks in Mexico in November.

Here he strongly criticised postmodernism, which he described as the first ever philosophy not to be based on the love of truth. Instead it relativises the idea, regarding it as a mere “construct” – something artificial and with no real foundation.

The logical conclusion of this kind of thinking, he warns, is that no universal value or concept will be considered valid. “Being, reason, justice, equality, solidarity, community, humanity, revolution and emancipation will all be classed as ‘essentialist’, in other words as ‘pro-nature’ abominations”.

Amorós noted that, although it pretends to be radical and has infected anarchist thinking, the postmodern philosophy amounts to “nihilism in harmony with the Markets, for which anything without economic value is of little importance”.

The contemporary “intersectional game of oppressed minorities” is replacing a collective resistance to established power, warned Amorós.

Miguel Amorós is pictured on the right

He said this was the latest stage of a historical sabotage of authentic opposition to industrial capitalism, that had begun at the end of the 1960s.

“Once the revolutionary subject had been neutralised in practice, it had to be suppressed in theory, so that its struggles might remain isolated, marginalised and incomprehensible, wrapped up in a brain-sapping, self-referential waffle designed only for the initiated. That was the task of French Theory.”

A similar message comes in an article by Sandra C. in the French-language anti-capitalist bulletin Négatif, in which she condemns the “insidious influence exerted on left-wing circles for many years by the postmodernist theory and cultural studies”.

Sandra C. writes: “By abandoning the concept of exploitation in favour of an analysis based on relationships of domination, by abandoning universalism for a defence of particularism and by abandoning the idea of a revolutionary and universal proletariat, so-called radical activists find themselves far away, poles apart even, from the emancipatory politics they claim as their own.”

She describes postcolonialism as closely linked to postmodernism and criticises the attitudes associated with what is sometimes known as critical whiteness.

She says: “It is disconcerting to see so-called revolutionaries, taking on board a collective guilt for colonial exploitation and its crimes and feeling shamefully ‘European’, ‘French’, ‘white’ and ‘privileged’. Self-assigned identity-based labels dressed up with guilt are not the way to emancipation and are in fact just mirror images of the identities claimed by the extreme right.”

Elsewhere, US-based journalist and writer Andre Vltchek condemned the anti-revolutionary thinking of the contemporary Western left in a blog article on February 3.

He writes: “The European left betrayed as early as in the 1980’s, by becoming too soft, too undisciplined, too cautious and too self-centered. It put pragmatism above the ideals. It rapidly adopted the lexicon of the liberal ideological establishment, complete with Western perceptions of human rights, democratic principles and political correctness.

“It ceased to be revolutionary; it essentially stopped all revolutionary activities, and it abandoned the core element of any true left-wing identity – internationalism.”

Vltchek adds: “The Western left is much more part of the West than of the left.”

A German-language diagram has also been circulating on social media which draws a distinction between the “traditional” and the “new” left.

It contrasts the traditional left’s struggle on behalf the  majority of the population with the new left’s over-emphasis on minorities.

The traditional left is internationalist, calling for the workers of the world to unite against capitalism, but the new left tends to be globalist in the liberal sense, it says.

Whereas the traditional left is anti-fascist, anti-imperialist and anti-war, seeing fascism and militarism as aspects of the capitalist system, the phoney liberal left swallows the lie that there could be such a thing as a “humanitarian” war and that states which do not bow down to Western interests are basically dictatorships, fascist regimes that “we” have a moral duty to oppose.

The traditional left has always been against the power of financial capital, but for the new liberal left this position smacks of anti-Americanism, even anti-Semitism.

Freedom of opinion has always been a mainstay of traditional left-wing thought, since the Enlightenment, but the new left denies this freedom to any thinking which strays outside of its own values, the values of “the West”, it is further claimed.

The suggested differences between these two kinds of “left” stem from differences in ways of seeing the world and don’t necessarily apply to practical policies and sympathies.

The “old left” is far from indifferent to the plight of refugees, for instance, but does not regard their situation as something outside of the general conditions of capitalism, against which it is already fighting.

It includes the need to help migrants and oppose racism within its left-wing vision of the world, but it does not fetishise and separate off this particular aspect of the overall struggle, leaving it open to reformist recuperation.

We should acknowledge, at this point, that, in the past and today, some anti-capitalists have paid lip service to the idea of racism but have avoided facing up to the reality of racism as experienced by individual people. They have not properly considered how this shapes their vision of society, social movements and anti-capitalist struggle.

But this criticism has clearly been taken too far when “left-wing” ideologies end up rejecting the universalism which has always been the bedrock of the left’s internationalism and anti-racism.

It is, in fact, quite mysterious how the postmodernist critique of universalism has so easily been swallowed by swathes of the so-called left.

The argument is based on the way that, historically, European colonialists described their own values as “universal” to justify imposing them on the rest of the world.

But it is false logic to claim that because the term “universal” was misused in this way, it therefore has no validity.

The idea of human universality should be fundamental to any socialist, anarchist or communist view of the world. This is the bedrock of our opposition to racism, nationalism and all the other excuses for separating people, dividing them into categories, deciding that some have more “rights” than others.

It is closely linked to the idea of equality. From a universalist perspective, all human beings are equal.

Right-wingers have always, of course, deliberately misunderstood the idea of equality. They try to pretend that it means left-wingers want to “make everyone the same”, to create some kind of faceless totalitarianism which imposes this terrible equality on us all.

They refuse to accept that equality is perfectly compatible with diversity and simply means acknowledging the theoretical equal value of every single human being, whatever their particular characteristics.

The postmodernist argument against universalism is, effectively, this same stupid right-wing argument! It deliberately presents universalism as a way of imposing a certain model on people, of destroying diversity in the name of some kind of central control.

But this is just not true. Universality, like equality, comes from below, from within humankind. There is a human universality which bonds us. There is a human equality which unites us. Left-wing, particularly anarchist, thinking understands and embraces this.

Throwing out universalism from the anti-capitalist world-view sabotages it at a fundamental level. Reclaiming universalism is therefore the first stage in renewing the international ideological and political struggle against capitalism and all the fragmented, incoherent, disempowering philosophies that it spawns.

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5. Acorninfo

Thousands of people protested in Switzerland in January against the World Economic Forum at Davos, and the presence of US President Donald Trump (see preview in Acorn 39). The venue hosting the global elite was protected by thousands of troops and protests there were banned on the flimsy pretext that there was “too much snow” in the Alpine resort.

* * *

A big weekend of international solidarity with the struggle to defend Hambach Forest in Germany was staged on February 3 and 4. Reports Hambachforest.org: “From all across Germany, from Genoa, Amsterdam and Spain, from Bristol and countless other locations came solidarity demonstrations, soli photos , banner drops, actions and all other outpourings of support. The largest demo took place in Cologne. Large demonstrations also took part in Aachen and Essen.” Although tree felling is on temporary hold, the authorities are trying to evict the 20 tree-houses and 11 barrios which have been set up to block the mine’s expansion and levels of police repression are on the rise.

* * *

Campaigners in Italy are trying to halt the environmentally-destructive Trans Adriatic Pipeline project, which aims to bring gas from Azerbaijan via Greece and Albania. On February 6 the EU’s bank EIB approved a €1.5bn loan for the controversial TAP project. Commented Friends of the Earth Europe: “This will keep Europe hooked on fossil fuels for decades – just when we should be kicking our fossil fuel addiction”. But the fight in Italy goes on. Said the NoTap campaign on February 7: “The day after EIB’s criminal decision to finance a huge useless and anachronistic project, the population continues to fight against the realization of TAP”.

* * *

If you believed the industry’s propaganda, you’d probably imagine that opposition to fracking is a lot of fuss about nothing. The odd well here and there, what’s the problem? But can you imagine living in a town with 300 fracking wells, where asthma is rife and children can’t go out and play because of poison gas in the air? That’s the reality in the USA, where fracking has been allowed to get a hold, as illustrated in the excellent documentary Don’t Frack With Denton. A successful campaign earns a fracking ban, which is overturned by corrupt authorities, steering local activists towards direct action and anarchist principles. “We will be enforcing our ban here,” they declare. “Expect resistance!”

* * *

The UK’s Anarchist Action Network is next meeting in Bristol, from 1pm to 4pm on Sunday March 11. The session is being held at “Resist!” (previously known as “Kebele Community Co-Op”), in Robertson Road.  All anarchists welcome.

* * *

A planned road tunnel past Stonehenge, England’s most important prehistoric site, could spell the loss of a unique site nearby, that can trace the presence of people back to 8000 BC, reports The Guardian. Warned David Jacques, an archaeologist at the University of Buckingham: “The intention is that an 8m high flyover will be built next to the site. One of trenches is only 2m away from the road. They seem prepared to carry on no matter what. It’s a scandal that this is being rushed through.”

* * *

“In May 2015, a declassified Pentagon document provided shocking evidence that the US-led campaign in Syria not only contributed directly to the rise of the Islamic State (IS), but that Washington was perfectly satisfied with such an outcome.” This is one of ten “very curious facts” about ISIS published by Mint News Press on January 30. The rest are worth a look, as well.

* * *

“The future of humanity is the struggle between humans that control machines and machines that control humans… Undetectable mass social influence powered by artificial intelligence is an existential threat to humanity.” This was the stark warning from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on January 18, 2018. But since he’s a known denier of transatlantic values, and a fugitive from liberal Western justice, everything he says can safely be dismissed as nothing more than extremist disinformation.

* * *

Acorn quote: “The social distinction that counts most in the present state of things is that based on wealth, that is to say on a purely outward superiority of an exclusively quantitative order”.

René Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World

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

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Follow Winter Oak on Twitter at @WinterOakPress

 

 

The Acorn – 20

acornmastheadnew

Number 20


In this issue:

  1. Motorway blocked in  massive anti-airport protest
  2. Naive illusions are propping up capitalism
  3. Islamophobia: the not-so-secret agenda of Baroness Cox
  4. Conspiracies and contamination
  5. Whose land? Our land!
  6. Acorninfo

1. Motorway blocked in massive anti-airport demo

NDDL4
20,000 people and 450 tractors blocked the motorway

A massive and powerful display of determined opposition to plans for a new Nantes airport was staged on Saturday January 9.

The motorway system around the sixth largest city in France was closed down for the day as 20,000 people and 450 tractors took it over.

nddl5
Tear gas is fired at anti-airport farmers

NDDL6

Farmers who tried to block a major motorway bridge all night were eventually pressured to leave by riot police, who couldn’t resist attacking them with tear gas even though they were moving off.

Solidarity protests were also held in more than 40 other places, including Paris, Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseilles, Strasbourg, Lyons, Albi, Rennes, Chambéry, Nîmes and even Barcelona.

The turn-out was much bigger than the organisers had dared hope, particularly since the mobilisation was brought forward a week from the original January 16 date.

NDDL2

NDDL1

The urgency comes from the fact that Vinci, the giant construction business building the airport, are going to court on Wednesday January 13 to try to secure an emergency order for the eviction of four small farmers and 11 families currently living and working on the land earmarked for the profiteering development.

With no apparent sense of irony, the same French state which revelled in the phony environmental “breakthrough” at COP21 in Paris (see below) is looking likely to deploy the full brutal might of its militarised police to attack the ZAD protest zone at Notre-Dame-des-Landes and clear the Breton countryside for Vinci’s airport.

The state of emergency still in place after November’s terror attacks in Paris will make it even easier to impose the destructive will of the industrial capitalist system with legitimised violence.

In a post-protest statement, opponents of the airport called for President Hollande to halt the eviction process and pledged to do everything possible to stop the project going ahead. The next step will be a protest outside the court in Nantes at 10.30am on Wednesday for Vinci’s eviction application.

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Campaigners have pledged to fight Vinci all the way

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2. Naive illusions are propping up capitalism

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The absurdities of the mainstream “environmentalist” movement were tragically plain to see around the tepid COP21 mobilisation in Paris in December (and nicely summarised in this video bulletin from submedia.tv)

As  Kevin Anderson writes, “the vested interests won out” at COP21, and for all the fine words we were left with the sorry prospect of “future techno-utopias, pennies for the poor, more fossil fuels, co-opted NGOs and an expert community all too often silenced by fear of reprisals and reduced funding”.

The principal reason is simple, says Anderson: “In true Orwellian style, the political and economic dogma that has come to pervade all facets of society must not be questioned”.

If you are looking for a long-term in-depth analysis of what has gone wrong, and can read Spanish or French, we would recommend Las ilusiones renovables: la cuestión de la energía y la dominación social by José Ardillo of Los Amigos de Ludd, now published as Les Illusions renouvelables. Énergie et pouvoir : une histoire by L’Echappée in (ironically enough) Paris.

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From the title and the wind turbines that grace its cover, you might think that this is a technical work, for those with a particular interest in the details of energy production.

But, in fact, Ardillo’s book operates on two levels and interwoven through the pages of very specific information about all aspects of energy is a powerful ideological critique not just of the industrial capitalist system, but of those who claim to be opposing it and yet are fundamentally failing to do so.

Ardillo’s frustration with the self-imposed limits of radical thought reaches back 200 years to the beginnings of modern socialism and anarchism.

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A shiny green industrial utopia

He complains that “19th century social thinkers and agitators nearly all positioned themselves within the movement for scientific and technological progress”.

This was particularly pronounced among socialists: “Although the emancipation of humankind was a central idea in the early years of socialism, it ended up being sacrificed on the altar of economism, political praxis and mass strategy”.

He acknowledges that, in contrast, “the anarchist movement still managed to keep a critical approach to technology and industrialisation, the thread of which can be followed from Bakunin through to the present day”.

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Mikael Bakunin, an enemy of the industrial capitalist system

But he identifies a blind spot in the anarchist approach, which meant that it often remained attached to hi-tech visions of future utopias based on the idea of some “magical” source of clean electricity.

“Anarchists were appalled by mines, urban pollution, city stress and factory assembly lines. The only bit of progress they wanted to hang onto was the end product: the little electric airplane flying silently through a clear sky”.

Ardillo is very critical of Murray Bookchin’s role in perpetuating this blinkered faith in capitalist “progress” among contemporary anarchists. He writes: “Bookchin believes that technological development must continue; in his view, the liberation of humankind depends on this. According to him, criticism of ‘abundance’, that’s to say the political consideration of a possible self-limitation based on simple methods and human energy, is therefore consigned to the scrapheap of reactionary thinking.

“It’s to be regretted that Bookchin’s views on energy and industrial abundance have had, and continue to have, such an influence on the opinions of a large part of the anarchist movement”.

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Murray Bookchin

He contrasts Bookchin’s views with those of Ivan Illich: “Without being dogmatic, Illich’s suggestions show that the only way of getting out of the trap of societies built on high energy consumption is to confront the structure of their habits, their organisation, the ethics on which they are built”.

As far as the broader environmentalist movement goes, Ardillo’s main source of unease concerns its naive view of power – something all-too-apparent in Paris amongst those protesters absurdly imagining that the leaders of global industrial capitalism were likely to do anything to check the excesses of the very system they represent.

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Some protesters in Paris seemed to imagine industrial capitalism might agree to dismantle itself

He writes: “For environmentalists, only the state and centralised neocapitalism have the means to act with a view to social transformation”.

They fool themselves that a process which empowers people at the expense of industry and the central state could actually be initiated by the capitalist system itself.

This fundamental mistake underlines the whole deluded fixation with the liberatory potential of renewable energy, he explains.

“In the 1970s people thought that renewable energy would provide technical support for significant social change, and that the new structural demands of society, once the fossil-fuel and nuclear models had been abandoned, would favour decentralisation and the organisation of direct democracy.

“We can see from the hesitant efforts that have so far been made to move towards the production of renewable energy that this process is never going to be in the hands of communities or small groups of individuals.

“How could it be? State and industry maintain a firm grip on everything affecting the way in which the majority are forced to live. The reappropriation of work and energy are impossible without first reappropriating the decision-making processes”.

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See also:

“The system has got to be destroyed”

Degrowth – real anti-capitalism

Degrowth: complete system change

Anarchism, capitalism and industry

Fighting capitalism’s domination of our lives

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

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If any public figure in the UK could be described as the “acceptable” face of Islamophobia it would probably be Baroness Cox.

She has built her criticism of Muslims on the apparently liberal basis of concern for equality and women’s rights – she presents herself as, in the words of The Daily Telegraph, “the feisty baroness defending voiceless Muslim women”.

It would seem at first sight that the 78-year-old peer, with her very public espousal of “humanitarian” causes, is a million miles away from the hate-mongering thugs of anti-Muslim organisations like the EDL.

But a little bit of background reading reveals a rabid extreme-right agenda behind her political activities – and links to some sinister and powerful global players.

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A clue to Cox’s affiliations comes from her role in founding the far-right Committee for a Free Britain in 1987.

The immediate aim of this organisation seems to have been to stop the Labour Party under Neil Kinnock from winning the general election that year.

As Robin Ramsay recalls (in Politics and Paranoia), the US government had said that it regarded the Labour Party’s policies “as a serious threat to NATO”.

Cox’s CFB therefore swung into action and “ran a series of powerful and outrageous anti-Labour newspaper adverts, for which the expression ‘scaremongering’ seems somehow inadequate” (Mike Hughes, Spies at Work)

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Tory propaganda from 1987

The CFB was extremely right-wing: “It was especially opposed to homosexual and lesbian rights. It supported the privatization of the education service, abolition of the NHS and substantial reductions in taxation”. (Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations: Parties, Groups and Movements of the 20th Century by Peter Barberis, John McHugh and Mike Tyldesley)

This was perhaps only to be expected, given that the other co-founder was none other than David Hart, a die-hard “anti-communist” who had played a key role in the Tories’ election campaigns of 1983 and 1987 and in their battle against the miners during the 1984 strike.

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David Hart

Old Etonian Hart had a vested interest in protecting the capitalist financial empire, being the elder son of businessman Louis Albert Hart, the chairman/principal shareholder of the Henry Ansbacher merchant bank.

He was well connected on both sides of the Atlantic, as Observer journalist David Rose noted in 1990: “Mr Hart had been a friend of the late CIA director, William Casey, and was generally feted in Washington. One dinner in his honour was attended by Dick Cheney, now the US Defence Secretary”.

Hart’s CIA connections no doubt account for the fact that the CFB arranged a visit to the UK by Adolfo Calero, the leader of the notorious Nicaraguan Contras, a US-backed terrorist group fighting the left-wing Sandinista government.

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Cox is herself described by Nafeez Ahmed as having “intelligence connections”. He writes how she was also involved with the Institute for the Study of Conflict, which was “created jointly by the British and American intelligence services, specifically the CIA and the Foreign Office”.

Investigations carried out by Rose also revealed the source of some of the money which allowed Cox and Hart to run their right-wing organisation – media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

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Rupert Murdoch

Murdoch’s The Sun was at the forefront of the campaign against Labour in 1987 and again in 1992 when it was “The Sun wot won it” for the Tories.

These days it has been busily combining a rabid hatred of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn with the promotion of extreme anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant views, notably those of repulsive columnist Katie “Cockroaches” Hopkins.

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Cox has been described as “a lynchpin of the UK neo-con right” and, after the end of the Cold War, her political priorities shifted along predictable lines.

Today, it is no longer the “threat” from gays and communists that dominates her media appearances, although she still has the occasional pop at the “pro-Muslim” Left, but the new bogeyman of Islam.

In 2009, she and UKIP peer Lord Pearson notoriously invited the extreme-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders to screen his hate-inciting film, Fitna, in the House of Lords.

And in April 2014 she hosted the House of Lords launch of Sharia Watch UK by Anne-Marie Waters, an erstwhile “left-wing critic of Islam” now regarded as close to the EDL.

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Anne-Marie Waters

Cox is also on the board of governors of the repugnant Gatestone Institute, which plays a key role in pumping out anti-Muslim scare stories.

Like many other far-right Christians she is a fervent supporter not only of the Israeli state but of a particularly unpleasant and extreme form of right-wing Zionism.

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Craig Murray, former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, explains that “Baroness Cox is a prominent supporter of organisations which actively and openly promote the ethnic cleansing of all Palestinians from Gaza”.

One of the most sinister of these organisations is called Jerusalem Summit, of which Cox is a co-president, alongside the likes of Daniel Pipes, the notorious American Muslim-hater.

On its website, Jerusalem Summit declares that the idea of a Palestinian state must be “removed from the international agenda”.

In order to “ensure the survival of Israel as the nation-state of the Jews” it proposes that Palestinians should be encouraged to leave their homeland, Palestine, and “build a new life for themselves and their families in countries preferably, but not necessarily exclusively, with similar religious and socio-cultural conditions”.

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It also concludes, in bold type that “the de-legitimization of the Palestinian narrative becomes a vital prerequisite to any comprehensive resolution of the Palestinian issue”.

The “de-legitimization of the Palestinian narrative”? Could this part of the motivation behind the anti-Muslim bile constantly being spewed up by Cox and her friends?

Just how far would these right-wing fanatics go in their efforts to turn public opinion in the USA and Europe against Muslims and, thus, Palestinians?

Baroness Cox and her fellow well-heeled hate-mongers certainly merit being just as closely tracked by the anti-fascist movement as the wretched anti-Muslim footsoldiers of the EDL or Pegida (see Acorninfo below).

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4. Conspiracies and contamination

In the last issue of The Acorn we commented, in passing, that “for some reason” any analysis which involves anything smacking of “conspiracy” is almost taboo in certain radical circles.

Some interesting suggestions as to why that might be the case can be found in Politics and Paranoia, a 2008 book by Robin Ramsay, editor of Lobster magazine.

Ramsay points out that the exposure of covert wrong-doing by the authorities originated, as you would naturally imagine, on the Left.

But then came a key moment in the 1960s when US intellectual Richard Hofstadter wrote an essay called The Paranoid Style in American Politics.

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Richard Hofstadter

Says Ramsay: “Hofstadter’s essay linked an interest in conspiracies or conspiracy theories with paranoia and with the loony radical Right. Hofstadter thus helped to contaminate the subjects for the liberal-left which then – and now – is unwilling to be associated with almost anything on or of the Right.

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

It’s easy to see why analysis exposing deceit at the heart of the system would be shunned by those who work within and on behalf of that system.

More difficult to understand, however, is how the fear of “conspiracy theories” has even infected outright opponents of the system, including anarchists.

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Conspiracy theorists? Protesting against a Bilderberg conference

When elements of the “radical” Right in the USA started criticising the US-dominated military-industrial complex, or “New World Order”, in the 1980s and 1990s, some on the Left turned and ran.

Comments Ramsay: “There is almost nothing the Left fears more than being associated in some way with the Right. We are dealing with concepts and psychological forces here such as purity and contamination”.

This, of course, is very handy for the Establishment. If anti-capitalists refuse to protest against the Bilderberg meetings of global capitalist leaders because they might find themselves rubbing shoulders with right-wing conspiracy nutters, then opposition to the Bilderberg gatherings can easily be presented as borderline insanity.

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Only nutters challenge the capitalist elite, according to corporate media

The core concern for the Left seems to be that to identify a particular conspiracy is to risk tumbling down a slippery slope towards scapegoating specific groups or individuals.

It is felt that this can also easily end up in the nightmare of anti-semitism and other dangerous delusions into which conspiracy theorists often seem to sink.

However, while it is obviously important to be on the guard against this risk, it is simply not true to suggest that the exposure of a particular conspiracy is incompatible with a broader social, cultural or economic analysis.

A dull-witted right-wing conspiracy theorist might get stuck at the level of mere specifics and come to the facile conclusion that the people responsible for such-and-such wrongdoing must also be responsible for all wrong-doing, everywhere and throughout history.

But anyone endowed with the powers of reason will understand that this is not the case and that there is also a bigger picture. As Ramsay says, there is a difference between “theories about conspiracies” and an all-embracing “Conspiracy Theory” which seeks to explain everything in one neat little package, at the expense of any deeper understanding.

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Exposing a particular conspiracy is not the same as saying conspiracies account for everything

The activities of the Bilderberg group, for instance, are simply a small detail in the practical functioning of a global capitalist system which can itself be analysed and challenged on a more abstract level.

It is possible to zoom in and out of different levels of analysis without feeling the need to sacrifice one of them for the sake of another.

If we zoom out from the Bilderbergs we see capitalism. If we zoom out from capitalism we see that it is merely the current form of an exploitation that has been going on for centuries.

Zooming out still further, we see the original intertwined lies of “authority” and “land ownership” which allowed capitalism to develop in the first place – and we see the violence of power through which it is imposed.

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The law is a conspiracy to codify and legitimise the violence of a dominant elite

All of this is not contradicted or undermined by exposing the clandestine machinations of contemporary elites.

Indeed, zooming back in to close-up revelations of the real conspiracies with which they are involved can only reinforce the message that their power is illegitimate and inherently based on deceit!

That is exactly why these elites want to hide their dodgy activities from the public – because a general awareness of what they are up to would shatter the illusions of democratic accountability with which they maintain consent and control.

Why would any genuine opponent of the capitalist system have a problem with exposing, to as many people as possible, detailed evidence of the hypocrisy and mendacity of that same system?

See also:

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

Terrorism and the state – learning from history

Capitalism is built on violence and lies

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5. Whose land? Our land!

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The protest in November 2009

A six-year battle by land campaigners in the south of England has successfully turned on its head a plan by authorities to sell off much-loved public land.

Not only have the slopes of Cissbury Ring, Worthing, Sussex, remained in public ownership, but they have now been officially declared open access land, as the campaigners had demanded.

The fight began six years ago, in 2009, when local residents discovered that Worthing Borough Council had put on the market publicly-owned downland at Mount Carvey and Tenants Hill, next to Cissbury Ring.

A group called Stop the Cissbury Sell-Off was formed and alerted the public to the secretive proposals.

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This prompted the Tory-led council to announce it was going to “review” its decision to sell the land – but SCSO smelled a rat, declaring: “They clearly hoped to sneak through the sale of the land without anyone noticing and we are suspicious that this so-called review may turn out to be just a delaying tactic”.

The campaigners kept up the pressure and, on November 14 2009, 400 people marched across the disputed land with banners and placards, setting off distress flares.

Open Spaces Society general secretary Kate Ashbrook spoke during the rally and backed the “crucial campaign”.

Campaigners pledged to keep fighting until the sell-off was definitively halted and, even before the end of the month, Worthing Borough Council had backed down.

SCSO became Worthing Downlanders in February 2010 and began the lengthy process of persuading the authorities to turn the Cissbury slopes into open access land so it could be fully enjoyed by its owners!

Although the wheels of bureaucracy turned at a frustratingly lethargic pace, the hard work finally paid off and at the very end of 2015, six years after the initial protest, the land was officially registered as open access.

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The public land in Sussex which is now officially open access

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6. Acorninfo

Anti-fracking activists from across the UK will be flocking to Cheshire on Saturday January 16 for a Solidarity Saturday with the Upton Community Protection Camp in Duttons Lane, Upton CH2 2PE. The camp could be evicted at any time to allow test drilling for fracking to take place. The call-out urges supporters “to draw the line against an elite who pay lip service to the Paris Climate Agreement while trashing subsidies for renewables, guaranteeing them for nuclear and making ‘closing coal’ conditional on replacing it with gas”. As opposition to fracking continues to grow, a report in The Independent has revealed that insurance firms are not going to be covering people for fracking-related damage. And the state has notched up its intimidation by detaining an anti-fracking campaigner at an airport under “anti-terrorist” laws, reports Drill or Drop website.

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“We were trying to act like an antibody for the Earth – trying to protect nature, to protect what was being destroyed in beautiful places”. This is the recollection of an eco-activist who took part in the battle to stop the Newbury bypass 20 years ago, as related in an anniversary report from the BBC. Comments BBC local reporter Paul Clifton: “The protesters lost the battle. But perhaps they won the war. There is no doubt the tree climbers swayed public opinion and, later, political policy changed too. It virtually halted the construction of major new roads for a generation. As Newbury was being built, a tunnel past Stonehenge in Wiltshire and a bypass for Arundel in West Sussex were being talked about. Twenty years later, they are still only being talked about”. Today the road battle is starting again and public opinion continues to mobilise against the threat of an A27 bypass across the Sussex countryside north of Chichester, as revealed in Acorn 18. Local media have now published leaked maps showing the draft route options, which were being kept from the public by the authorities.

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Nature’s antibodies protect trees at Newbury

* * *

Two important dates are coming up for anti-fascists in England. The first  is in Dover on Saturday January 30, when The South East Alliance will be holding an anti-immigrant march alongside a gaggle of other far-right groups. Then the following Saturday, February 6, former EDL chief Stephen Yaxley-Lennon (aka Tommy Robinson) has announced his return to far-right street protests, leading a PEGIDA UK march in Birmingham. More info on counter-protests on the Anti-Fascist Network website.

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* * *

Eco-activists struck against the open cast lignite mine at Hambacher Forest in Germany on New Year’s Eve. They report: “We set up homemade stingers on the road used by the mine security forces to harass and distract them whilst we set fire to various bundles of cables and some wiring boxes by the side of the train tracks which are used to transport brown coal from the mine to nearby power stations. Halting the trains for some time. Then we put the torch to a telecommunications mast on the edge of the mine and watched from a distance as the entire device went up in flames and continued to burn for over an hour. And finally, just after midnight we attacked again, setting up more stingers on the security road closer to their compound. We then set fire to a burning barricade of car tyres and a large pile of logs by the roadside to lure security into our traps before retreating again into the forest to the sound of fireworks”.

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* * *

The next Anarchist Action Network is to be held on Sunday January 17, from 1pm to 5pm, at Clockworks, Queens Street, Derby. All anarchists are welcome. For more info on the network and directions to the meeting go to www.anarchistaction.net

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* * *

The fascisisation of society shows no sign of abating in the UK, as elsewhere. An indication of the levels of surveillance imposed on the population came from a recent report revealing that visitors to London’s Hyde Park all had their identities and movements secretly tracked via their mobile phone data during a “trial”. And there was a strong warning regarding planned new UK surveillance laws from American National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower William Binney (below) in an interview on the Wired website. He said: Retroactively analysing people, anybody you want, any time you want, that’s certainly possible with bulk acquisition of data but that’s certainly not what democracies are built on. That’s what totalitarian states are built on”.

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* * *

Does postanarchism, influenced by deconstruction theory and the likes of Michel Foucault, represent an ideological attempt to undermine anarchism? This is the question currently being raised in some anarchist circles in France, and summarised in English in this blog post by Paul Cudenec. Meanwhile, this fascinating archive video shows a 1971 discussion between Foucault and Noam Chomsky on anarchism, human nature, justice and revolution.

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Foucault v Chomsky

* * *

Cardiff Anarchist Network (Rhwydwaith Anarchaidd Caerdydd) is hosting an anarcho-punk winter warmer on Saturday January 30 from 6pm at the Welsh city’s Cathays Community Centre. Bands will include Atterkop, 51st STATE, Think Pretty, WolfPunch, Regrethc and Failed State. There will be a full bar at cheap prices, plus a wide range of vegan snacks available as well as loads of stalls.

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* * *

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

Miguel Amorós, Elementary Foundations of the Anti-Industrial Critique

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

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The Acorn – 16

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Number 16


In this issue:

  1. “The system has got to be destroyed”
  2. Resisting the prison industrial complex
  3. London Anarchist Bookfair 2015
  4. Erdogan’s dirty war against the Kurds
  5. Paint-daubing, egg-throwing and shirt-ripping!
  6. Acorninfo

1. “The system has got to be destroyed”

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Anti-industrial protesters in Nantes

“The most basic task ahead of us is to bring as many people as possible together around the conviction that the system has got to be destroyed”.

These words from an article called Where Are We Now? (¿Dónde Estamos? or Où en sommes-nous?) by Miguel Amorós remain as true today as when they were written some 15 years ago.

December’s Cop21 climate summit in Paris presents an excellent opportunity to vastly expand the numbers of people committed to the destruction of capitalism.

As we have already reported in The Acorn, the protests against this smug neoliberal showcase are bound to go a lot further than the A to B parades typical of mainstream UK “climate” campaigning.

There is a new spirit of defiance in the European anti-capitalist and radical degrowth movement, with rebels from ZAD autonomous zones all over France heading for the capital, Climate Games being advertised (see this video) and the international call-out (see below) talking of “an end to capitalism and productivism”.

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Protests in Nantes

It is now a year since the death of young eco-activist Rémi Fraisse at the hands of the French gendarmes on October 26 2014. Given the feisty nature of radical environmental protests both before and after his murder by the French state – in Nantes, Toulouse and elsewhere (see Acorn 3) – the French cops are going to very busy between November 28 and December 12. Indeed, French corporate media are already reporting that police are braced for a “Black Bloc” assault on the capitalist summit.

If there is anyone out there who still thinks of the menace of industrialism as an environmental side-show to the main class struggle against capitalism, they would do well to consider Amorós’s article.

He writes: “Technology is an instrument and a weapon because it benefits those who know best how to use it and how to be used by it. The bourgeoisie have used machines and the ‘scientific’ organisation of work against the proletariat. No revolt against domination can really represent the general interest unless it turns itself into a rebellion against technology, a Luddite revolt”.

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Luddites in action

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

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

And it is no coincidence that Amorós’s text takes its name, and its opening quote, from the great 19th century English green-anarcho-socialist William Morris.

William Morris
William Morris – a passionate opponent of industrial capitalism

Morris wrote in his own Where Are We Now?: “What was it which we set out to accomplish? To change the system of society on which the stupendous fabric of civilisation is founded, and which has been built up by centuries of conflict with older and dying systems, and crowned by the victory of modern civilisation over the material surroundings of life.

“The shouts of triumph over the glories of civilisation which once drowned the moans of the miserable have now sunk into quavering apologies for the existence of the horrors and fatuities of our system; a system which is only defended as a thing to be endured for lack of a better, and until we can find some means of packing it off into limbo”.

cop21 call-out

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2. Resisting the prison industrial complex

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Nothing better sums up the capitalist world than its prison system – where brutal oppression and cynical private profiteering combine to such lucrative effect.

Because fear of crime is one of the core anxieties instilled in the population to keep them obedient, few raise their voices in support of the victims of the prison industrial complex.

The week of action being organised from November 2 to 8 against the massive new jail being built in North Wales is therefore especially important.

Says the call-out: “A week of action has been called to encourage people of the UK & the world to take action against the construction of the North Wales Prison in Wrexham.

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The planned mega-prison

“The prison will be the second largest prison in Europe, holding more than 2,100 people and costing £250 million to build. Australian contractor Lend Lease was awarded the contract to build the Wrexham titan prison by the government in May 2014.

“Local people have resisted the prison for over half a decade; objecting to planning applications, lobbying, going to meetings. Full planning permission was eventually granted in November 2014 despite local resistance. It is now a construction site and this place of abuse and oppression is being built as we speak.

“Our aims are to resist it, slow it down and send a message to the state and the prison industry that it is not acceptable to profit from caging human beings. The Government wish to build more prisons in the UK, this is our opportunity to intervene and prevent this industry from expanding. We must take the offensive against prison expansion and the social control of our lives. We are fighting until all are free”.

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During the week there will be demonstrations at the prison and also against its suppliers – collaborators in crime. Find your local prison profiteer at: www.cape-campaign.org/prison-profiteers

Solidarity demos at other prisons across the UK are also planned, along with information nights, workshops and film showings to ignite more resistance to the prison industrial complex.

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3. London Anarchist Bookfair

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The 2015 London Anarchist Bookfair is being staged on Saturday October 24, from 10am to 7pm, and there is wealth of interesting workshops on offer, on top of all the stalls – and the socialising opportunities!

It’s at a new venue this year – Central Saint Martin’s, University of the Arts London, Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, London N1C 4AA. This is a huge building behind Kings Cross station – a lot easier to get to than Mile End.

The full list of workshops can be found on the bookfair website, but we’d thought we’d pick out a few that appeal to us.

Of particular relevance to this edition of The Acorn is a talk called “Red Lines in Paris: mobilising for the UN climate talks this December” from Reclaim the Power, which asks: “How can we use the international mobilisation in Paris to popularise the use of direct action against polluter interests and to strengthen our movements for climate justice back home?”

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Corporate Watch are leading an important session discussing ways forward for the anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian climate movement in the UK. They say: “Much of the climate/environmental movement lacks a serious political analysis, and at the same time anarchists can have a blind spot about climate change and ecological crises, sometimes adopting a misanthropic or fatalist attitude. This workshop will explore ways to communicate and organise around climate change that place it as an important part of the struggles against capitalism and other systems of oppression”.

Earth First! will also be holding a workshop, encouraging people to become more involved in exciting direct action projects planned for coming months or to set up their own local group.

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One of many other highlights promises to be a session on Women and Armed Struggle, which declares: “From bomb throwing suffragettes to Female Urban Guerrillas to the thousands of Women who participate in the Armed Struggle of the Zapatistas and the Kurds, there is a rich history of Women’s Armed Struggle. But much of this history is forgotten or deliberately ignored by Liberal Feminists who wish to ‘clean up’ our history.”

zapatista-women
Zapatista women

It’s good to see a healthy emphasis on the core philosophy behind the event, with an illustrated talk by Kevin Eady on the history and theory of the anarchist movement and Iain McKay (author of An Anarchist FAQ) exploding some of the common myths about anarchism and anarchists.

Kurdistan features prominently this year, as you might expect, with one workshop on The Rojava Revolution and another, from Corporate Watch, focusing on how to build effective solidarity with Kurdistan.

There are also two different workshops on current developments in Greece and two on Cuba.

The Undercover Research Group will introduce its work on mapping out the activities of the British state’s undercover units, those responsible and the networks between them, while the Radical Anthropology Group will be hosting a session on primitive communism: “We evolved under egalitarianism, not class despotism”.

There are also workshops on Militant Anti-Fascism, Art and Anarchism, No Borders Morocco and on social centres and co-ops – among many others!

Winter Oak titles are available via our friends at Active Distribution, who will, as ever, have a stall at the bookfair.

active stall
An Active Distribution stall

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4. Erdogan’s dirty war against the Kurds

The appalling bomb attack in Ankara on October 10 has helped focus more attention on the deeply unpleasant nature of the Turkish state (see Acorn 12).

Although corporate media shy away from criticising a key NATO ally, an understanding is spreading that the Erdogan regime is heavily implicated in so-called ISIS terrorism, with the re-emergence of a “deep state” linked both to mafia figures like Sedat Peker and to right-wing terrorist groups.

Right-wing mafia boss Sedat Peker
Right-wing mafia boss Sedat Peker

A useful analysis of the situation is provided in an article from the French-language journal CQFD on The Turkish State’s Dirty War Against the Kurdish Movement, which describes how the regime pays only lip service to opposing ISIS.

“In fact, since July 20, the exclusive targets of repression by the Turkish authorities are the PKK and the Kurdish population in the south-east of the country, the pro-Kurdish and far-left legal opposition movements and certain media outlets and social networks which have been subject to censorship.

Rojava

“The ‘double or quits’ poker gamble that Erdogan is making has two aims – on the one hand to halt the Kurdish moves towards autonomy bolstered by the system in Rojava (where YPG and YPJ guerrillas are the only ground resistance to ISIS) and, on the other hand, to counter opposition from the HDP, a pro-Kurdish party which won 13% of the vote in the last legislative elections and which got in the way of  the Turkish president’s autocratic drift by costing him his absolute majority.

“After the elections in June, Erdogan decided, without the prior consent of parliament, to rerun the vote. By provoking confrontations and by tarring the PKK with the same ‘terrorist’ brush as ISIS, he is hoping for a nationalistic reaction that will lead to him regaining his absolute majority in November’s elections. For Engin Sustam the desire to ‘divide and rule’ is obvious – ‘The AKP offensive against the Kurds is a way of polarising Turkish society in order to try and prop up the crumbling power of the nationalistic and authoritarian state’. ”

The “strategy of tension” has long been a favourite ploy of states to reassert their authority by means of covert state terrorism. Observers may well wonder if the Ankara bombing of 2015 will prove to come from the same textbook as the Bologna bombing of 1980, now widely believed to have been carried out by a NATO state with close links to the mafia and fascist terrorists.

bologna
Bologna in 1980

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5. Paint-daubing, egg-throwing and shirt-ripping!

fuck parade
Class War in Shoreditch, East London

A spirit of lively physical resistance seems to have been reborn of late, which augurs well for the months and years to come.

Class War’s anti-gentrification Fuck Parade in Shoreditch managed to grab national and even international headlines when participants dared to daub paint on the outside of a hipster “cereal cafe” – unleashing a great vomiting of self-righteous hypocritical outrage from London’s smuggest.

In case anyone missed it, there are videos here, here and here.

Protests against the Conservative party conference in Manchester also proved lively, with the stand-out moment being the dead-eyed egging of a ridiculously pompous young Tory (video here).

tory egged

An excellent round-up of all the action in the Salford Star concludes: “Most people on the protests who the Salford Star spoke to were furious that the Tories had dared to come to Manchester, one of the cities most hard hit by Government attacks on people who have the least.

“As delegates filed out of the Conference Centre for the final time yesterday, they were pointed in the direction of the city’s must-see food banks and homeless camps, as they were serenaded to the tune of the Ugly Duckling… `Oink Oink! Get out!… Oink Oink! Get out of town!’…”

manchester pigmask

The French have been getting in on the physical comedy protest-genre as well, with angry trade unionists literally ripping the shirt from the back of an Air France executive announcing job losses (video here).

air france
An Air France executive, deprived of his shirt

Back in London, the next excitement may well come on Thursday November 5, with the Million Mask March gathering in Trafalgar Square from 6pm. “We call to arms our many brothers and sisters. The war crimes can no longer go unnoticed, the people can no longer pay the price of the corrupt politicians, the bankers can no longer profit, the bloodshed must stop… Liberty must be reinstated”.

Similar events are planned internationally.

million mask march

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6. Acorninfo

Authorities in Western Australia are clearing the way for a motorway to be driven across an Aboriginal heritage site that is “older than the pyramids”. The sacred area between Bibra and North lakes – in Noongar culture the birthplace of the creation spirit Waugyl –  has been removed from the Aboriginal heritage register because it inconveniently stands in the way of the proposed Roe 8 freeway extension, scheduled to be built next year as part of the first leg of the $1.6m Perth Freight Link.

bibra protest
A protest against Roe 8

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A warning against US imperialism targeting Africa, via its military organisation Africom, has been issued by the Pan African Alliance. It says: “Instead of helping Africa, the United States is currently engaged in secret missions to keep African Nations destabilized. Uganda, Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria, and Mali are primed to be the sites of the next major genocides. For 400 years, our ancestral homeland has been bled dry, and with the rise of China as a new colonial competitor, things are about to get much worse for our people and our motherland.”

africomgraphic

* * *

Four people were killed in massive protests against a mining project at Las Bambas in the Apurímac region of Peru at the end of September. Troops were sent to the area to put down popular opposition to industrial capitalist destruction and a state of emergency was declared. The blood-stained $10 billion project will involve the extraction of 400,000 tons of copper every year.

peru mine
The huge protests against copper mining

* * *

George Orwell’s nightmare is coming true in the town of Saint Denis in Réunion, a French overseas department in the Indian Ocean. Not only are there CCTV cameras to spy on people in the streets, but they are now also being equipped with loudspeakers to bark orders at those being monitored.

cctv speakers
CCTV loudspeakers are installed

* * *

Resistance continues against the destruction of the Hambach Forest in Germany by lignite mining. There have been numerous arrests as activists block access roads and sabotage work. On October 8 the local police station was sprayed with paint and shit in protest at heavy-handed repression. For latest info see the blog at http://hambachforest.blogsport.de/

hambacher

* * *

Sussex Anarchists are hosting a talk by anarchist writer Scott Crow on Sunday October 25, from 7.30pm at The Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton. It is part of a UK/Ireland tour presenting the new book Black Flags and Windmills, from PM Press. Sussex Anarchists, which are part of the Anarchist Action Network, can be followed on Twitter via @sussexanarchist. The author is also talking at Freedom Bookshop in London (Oct 21), Hydra Bookstore, Bristol (Oct 22), Sumac Centre, Nottingham (Oct 23), the London Anarchist Bookfair (Oct 24), CCEA, Derry (Oct 24), Wharf Street Chambers, Leeds (Oct 26), Loughborough University (Oct 27), The Annexe Cafe, Glasgow (Oct 28) and the Independent Radical Book Fair, Edinburgh (Oct 28).

Black Flags book

* * *

A new activist website has been launched for southern France – Marseille Infos Autonomes features local and global news and analysis. The site is at http://mars-infos.org/

mars-info

* * *

Only degrowth – the abandonment of industrial capitalism – can be a credible answer to Europe’s current refugee situation, argues Dennis Eversberg of the Research Group on Post-Growth Societies at the Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena. He writes on the degrowth.de site: “The knowledge that European lifestyles cannot be made available to everyone logically implies that people will have to be repelled at Europe’s borders and sent back to poverty and war – unless we accept that it is our own societies that cannot go on with business as usual”.

refugee sign

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airportqueues

Acorn quote: “Let us consider things for a moment from the standpoint of those whose ideal is material ‘welfare’, and who therefore rejoice at all the improvements to life furnished by modern ‘progress’; are they quite sure they are not being duped? Is it true that, because they dispose of swifter means of communication and other things of the kind, and because of their more agitated and complicated manner of life, men are happier today than they were formerly? The very opposite seems to us to be true: disequilibrium cannot be a condition of real happiness. Moreover, the more needs has, the greater the likelihood that he will lack something, and thereby be unhappy; modern civilization aims at creating more and more artificial needs, and as we have already said, it will always create more needs than it can satisfy, for once one has started on this path, it is very hard to stop…”.

René Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World

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

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