We are well aware that there are many genuine grassroots activists involved in Extinction Rebellion protests, people we know are on our side.
But more and more questions are being asked about the nature of the organisation itself, about the true agenda of the leadership lurking behind a flimsy illusion of horizontality.
The non-existence of a mass radical anti-capitalist movement in the UK (let alone a radical ecological anti-capitalist one!) means that XR has appealed to a lot of people who have long been waiting for some kind of rebellion to finally emerge.
Perhaps they have been tolerant of XR’s eccentricities (starry-eyed love of the police, dogmatic non-violence bordering on control-freakery, connections with business interests, refusal to consistently condemn capitalism) because they are the only show in town and it is a question of XR or nothing.
The same is not true in France, though, where revolution is often in the air and where the last year has seen a full-on yellow-coloured challenge to the neoliberal state.
XR have been active there too, but their fake radicalism and lame submissiveness to authority has shocked many eco-radicals and anti-capitalists, who have been voicing their concerns online.
Reporting on the XR occupation in Châtelet, it said “Extinction Rebellion scuttled its own initiative in a total absence of strategic thinking and analysis of power struggles”.
It explained: “The ‘diversity of tactics’ working group on Wednesday evening had asked each of the six blockade points to start thinking about what we would say to the press, the authorities, the public, on the day that we were moved on.
“For instance, it was suggested, in the spirit of a convergence of struggles, that we say ‘we are not leaving without the passing of a law for carbon neutrality by 2025 and an amnesty for all activists incarcerated during the various Gilets Jaunes protests’. That would have been awesome.
“But the XR leadership decided, at a sparsely-attended assembly on Friday morning, October 11, to dismantle the camp, to move most of the equipment and to pull out from the six blockade points.
“In short, XR removed everything which made this public space a living space where we could discuss, debate, get to know each other.
“The given reason was, of course, the next day’s action, but anyone with a minimum of strategic sense should have seen that this camp, now that it was there, now that it had been reinforced by Gilets Jaunes and other anti-capitalist and environmental activists, the night before the weekend, had definite subversive potential. Predictably the action on Saturday October 12 was, on the other hand, a total flop”.
The article went on to comment: “This is not a case of ‘non-violent civil disobedience’ nor indeed of ‘obedience’ since there was no official warning from the police or the authorities. It was rather a case of servility: we ended the camp before even having been ordered to leave. This is exactly the opposite of struggle or rebellion”.
This described a General Assembly held at the protest near the National Assembly in Paris on October 12.
“Several people spoke up to protest against XR having abandoned, the previous day, the occupation of the Place du Châtelet and the response came that since people from outside XR had joined in the blockade and did not adhere strictly to the consensus of non-violent action, with barricades apparently having been built, XR could not condone these actions by being present. And in any case they had needed the gear and the activists for today’s (kettled) actions.
“It was announced that as the police kettle had started at 10h48, the police should be letting everyone go at 14h48 because the law, since the state of emergency, dictates a period of four hours’ detention. As if the police were going to respect the law!
“In the meantime, several activists suggested some activities until the moment of liberation: a talk about XR for newcomers, training in civil disobedience and non-violence, photos for social media showing activists lying on the ground forming the XR logo with their bodies, construction of a toilet area…”
A little later, reacting to the CRS riot police, “a group of people started to chant ‘no justice, no peace!’. Next to us, a ‘peace-keeper’ (an XR activist charged with ensuring action remained non-violent) shouted, despairingly: ‘No, you mustn’t say that!’ and a colleague replied, with contempt dripping from his lips, ‘That lot are Gilets Jaunes from Drôme’.”
So is there any hope that the XR protests will do some good and will not simply lead thousands of good-hearted people into a dead end?
The report from the Concorde Bridge in Paris, for all its criticism, did point to some positive possibilities.
The authors said that when the assembly broke into smaller groups, it became apparent that individuals were keen to break free from central XR control and act independently.
They added: “It was a rather pleasant surprise to see that many XR activists did not stay stuck in the XR box, did not shy away from more radical action, less focused on media PR, and were asking real political questions about the scope of these actions. As often happens, the grassroots could quickly outgrow the organisation”.
After a few months of relative calm, anger has again erupted on the streets of France, this time specifically focused against the police.
This time last year saw the start of the massive protest movement against the neoliberal labour “reforms” called the Loi Travail, as reported by The Acorn.
With the summer holidays, and the fact that the law was forced through parliament by the ruling “Socialist” party, the movement inevitably faded.
But, in reality, the energy behind it had never been limited to anger about this latest capitalist assault on workers’ rights. It was a general resentment against the whole system that was simmering and as increasing repression was unleashed against protesters, the movement became just as much a defiance of the violence of the French state, with its “state of emergency” martial law and fascistic police goon squads.
Now, at the start of 2017, the cities and towns of France are once again being filled by cries of “Tout le monde déteste la police!” – “Everybody hates the police!”.
The immediate catalyst has been the nauseating police rape of a young black man in Aulnay, a suburb of Paris, on February 2 – he had to be treated in hospital for anal injuries after having a police baton thrust into him during an all-too-common attack on local youths by thuggish cops.
In response, there have been several weeks of often-feisty protests in the immediate area and all across France (see this video from Bobigny, for instance, and these round-ups from lundimatin and paris-luttes).
The anger is not going to disappear fast. While the French establishment has tried to calm outrage by charging a cop with rape and sending President Hollande to visit victim Théo L in hospital, it seems likely to embrace the police version that the brutal violation was somehow “accidental”.
And, in the year of the French presidential elections, the revolt against police violence cannot be separated from wider political issues, even if liberals would prefer otherwise.
For instance, when a protest against an extreme-right Front National event in Nantes on February 25 turned into street conflict with the cops, the usual reformist voices were raised, saying that this had undermined the day’s anti-fascist message.
But, as protesters interviewed by lundimatin explained, it is difficult in today’s France to draw a line between fascism and the police. When it is police who brutally attack blacks on the streets, police who attack left-wing protesters, police who are known to vote in large numbers for the pro-police Front National, you do not need to look any further for the fascist enemy.
Said Camille: “Confronting the police is fighting the Front National. Fighting the Front National is saying no to a police-state society.”
Added Mo: “Obviously the police’s political party is the FN. Its whole campaign is built on this image of a party of law and order. The FN can’t present itself as an openly fascist party, but can get away with the idea of being the only party really supporting the police”.
Families of the victims of police violence have called a national protest against cop-crime and institutional racism for Sunday March 19. This will set off from Nation, in Paris, at 2pm and head to the Place de la République via Bastille.
Campaigners have announced a day of protest against a controversial Cardiff event which they say “totally blurs the boundary between government and the arms trade”.
DPRTE (Defence Procurement, Research, Technology & Exportability) is to be held at the Motorpoint Arena on Tuesday 28 March. Although it bills itself as “the UK’s leading defence procurement event”, opponents insist it is an arms fair.
Last year six people were arrested during protests against DPRTE and another day of action has been called for 2017, with the aim of shutting the event down.
BAE Systems, whose fighter jets have been used by the Saudi regime to bomb schools and hospitals in Yemen, as well as by the Turkish and Israeli states against Kurdish and Palestinian civilians, will be exhibiting in the “Prime Contractor Village” at Cardiff’s Motorpoint.
DPRTE is open about its aims to deepen and increase existing ties between arms businesses and the government.
These links between the UK state and the weapons industry have come under heavy scrutiny in recent months, with Prime Minister Theresa May being forced to defend ongoing arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the face of international criticism.
Event organisers BiP Solutions boast: “With an annual spend of over £19bn on equipment and services the UK defence sector represents a fantastic opportunity for organisations looking to supply to this marketplace. DPRTE 2017 will provide a unique opportunity to gain access to defence procurement buyers”.
BiP Solutions, a private company based at Pacific Quay, Glasgow, is deeply embedded within Ministry of Defence (MOD) operations, running its Defence Contracts Online, through which all MOD contracts valued at £10,000 and above are advertised. It also publishes the fortnightly MOD Defence Contracts Bulletin.
Established in 1984 “to facilitate business between the public and private sectors”, BiP Solutions has had a “a sixteen-year relationship” with civil servants at the MOD in London.
A keynote speaker at DPRTE 2017 will be 62-year-old Les Mosco, who was the most senior procurement professional in the MOD from 2007 to 2014, managing 2,500 staff and directing the MOD’s annual multi-billion pound spend.
Before his seven-year stint at Whitehall, Mosco enjoyed a successful career in the private sector, with roles at the NatWest banking group, and at the US-based oil and gas business Amerada Hess, now the Hess Corporation.
He also runs his own private company, Commercial Strategies Ltd, of which he is CEO and director, with his 65-year-old wife Barbara as company secretary. It is registered to the couple’s home in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.
Originally set up in October 2003 as Purchasing Strategies Ltd, its name was changed to Commercial Strategies Ltd in October 2014, just after Mosco left the MOD.
Mosco’s go-between role is no anomaly. The UK government does not hide its links to DPRTE, with Barry Burton, Director of Corporate Affairs at the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation, declaring in his 2016 opening speech in Cardiff: “An event like DPRTE today provides an excellent opportunity for industry professionals to meet with the MOD’s procurement team. The Ministry of Defence wholeheartedly supports this event.”
The official event partners listed on the DPRTE website include sections of the MOD like Defence Equipment and Support, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Defence Infrastructure Organisation and the Defence Export Service Organisation (DESO), which promotes arms exports by arms companies based in Britain.
Alongside these government entities sit other event partners whose status is less clear. One of these, for instance, is Defence Growth Partnership (DGP), which describes itself as “a partnership between Government and the Defence Industry”.
There is also the UK Defence Solutions Centre (UKDSC), which explains on its website that it is “an established, independent partnership between the UK Government and the UK Defence Industry”.
The UKDSC claims to work with “the best of the defence industry” and names arms companies such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Thales, Cobham and BAE Systems as key partners.
Another DPRTE “partner” is Defence and Security Accelerator, a new entity launched in December 2016 to “help government defence and security departments collaborate with industry, academia and allies”.
Further official event partners at DPRTE entirely represent the interests of the powerful weapons manufacturing industry.
One of these, ADS, terms itself the “Premier Trade Organisation for companies in the UK Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space Sectors” and claims to represent 1,000 businesses.
Its website reveals that it acts as a lobbying group, pressuring the government to behave in ways that benefit its members’ interests – which in this case would mean spending more taxpayers’ money on buying weapons.
ADS admits that a key area of its activities is “influencing the policy debates of most importance to our industries,” adding: “ADS plays an instrumental role in bringing industry and Government together. We also work closely and collaboratively to maintain and grow the UK as a world leader in our industries.”
Working towards similar aims is another DPRTE partner, NDI – Defence, Space, Aerospace, Security. The arms wing of the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, NDI “actively promotes global business opportunities for its members” and says it provides “policymaking influence to magnify the voice of the industry and individual companies”. Its “global partners” include BAE Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon.
DPRTE has been attracting protests for several years and was forced to move to Cardiff in 2014 because of public opposition at its original venue in Bristol.
This year the Stop the Cardiff Arms Fair / Na i Ffair Arfau Caerdydd network is advertising a Day of Action at the Motorpoint Arena in Mary Ann Street, starting at 8am on 28 March 28.
One anti-militarist campaigner said: “This event is unacceptable in so many ways. It totally blurs the boundary between government and the arms trade and uses taxpayers’ money to promote unethical profiteering in the private sector.
“These ruthless businesses build their wealth on the rubble of schools and hospitals and on the dead bodies of the children targeted by the weapons of mass destruction they manufacture and sell across the world.
“DPRTE has no place in Cardiff and the city should be ashamed of hosting these dealers in death. We call on anyone with a conscience to join us on 28 March to shut down this arms fair!”
“If we really want to preserve the environment, and the quality of water resources, it’s imperative that we change this system and this government”.
So who said this? A Standing Rock campaigner in the USA, perhaps? An anti-fracking activist in the UK?
No, these are the words of Ran Yunfei, a Chinese philosopher and dissident who has already spent time in jail for his opposition to the policies of the “People’s Republic”.
He is speaking in South to North, a documentary film by Antoine Boutet about the highly controversial Nan Shui Bei Diao, or South–North Water Transfer Project. This massive scheme aims to channel 44.8 billion cubic meters of fresh water annually from the Yangtze River in southern China to the more arid and industrialized north through three canal systems.
But behind the gloss and profits of a prestige infrastructure project lies, as ever, a different story – of displaced families, corrupt local officials, depleted rivers, dead fish and untold environmental damage.
Ran says in the film, now out on DVD: “I didn’t directly criticise the Nan Shui Bei Diao project, but I’m well informed. A lot of people are against it and so am I. It’s damaging the sources of many Southern rivers. I criticise the government because it’s a political project.
“The destruction of the environment in China is the doing of a disastrous government and political system. The development model is based on GDP growth, without concern over the consequences for the environment.
“On the one hand the incompetencies of the system, on the other the belief that ‘man can determine the course of nature’. The natural catastrophes that have succeeded one another indicate that the future foretells of more natural catastrophes.
“The protection of the environment must be made a top priority. The protection of the environment and the life of the people should be valued at the same level. Because without environmental protection there is no quality of life”.
The hidden scandal of people serving indefinite sentences in UK jails is to be exposed by campaigners this month.
Smash IPP are embarking on a March 2017 info tour and are looking for local groups and individuals to help organise dates, mainly between Monday March 13 and Sunday March 19.
More than 3,989 people are serving IPP (Imprisonment for Public Protection) sentences in British prisons even though these were legally abolished five years ago.
These victims of blatant injustice still languish in jails with no release date. Parole board delays, prison overcrowding and sheer neglect are all leading to unprecedented rates of prisoner suicides.
Smash IPP report that, only last year, a prisoner whom they supported died in prison: “We have worked with IPP families who have lost their kids and their partners. Children have grown up with having a parent stolen by this sentence”.
A mother with a son who’s an IPP describes the IPP sentence as a “death sentence”. One IPP wrote how “Our families are doing the sentence just us much as us, is it right for them to never know if we will ever come home? Sometimes I feel that if I died it would be better for them because they could bury me and move on with their lives and not worry any more.”
Smash IPP say: “Enough is enough. This is life and death. We will not let any more people die because of prison bureaucracy and neglect. This year we call for a year of action to free all IPPs.”
Anyone who can host a meeting would just have to be able to help IPP find a local venue for a two-hour event, help with local publicity and put two people up overnight, preferably with vegan food.
To get involved in any way, contact Smash IPP via info(at)smashipp.noflag.org.uk
In George Orwell’s 1984, one of the Party members developing Newspeak tells Winston Smith: “You think, I dare say, that our chief job is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We’re destroying words – scores of them, hundreds of them, every day”.
He explains: “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it… By 2050 – earlier, probably – all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed”.
In destroying the full metaphysical meaning of words like “essence”, “nature” or “universal” by means of their straw man constructs, the conformists of contemporary goodthink are destroying our connection to reality.
Because they ideologically object to everything beyond subjective individual experience, they are destroying, in particular, our connection to the reality that we human beings are more than individuals.
They are destroying our understanding that our individual freedom and well-being are in fact dependent on a collective level of existence as part of a community, as part of a species and as part of nature as a whole.
They are thus destroying our capacity to see what has been stolen from us by the alienation and separation of the industrial capitalist system and what it is that we must reclaim. “If one is to rule, and to continue ruling,” declares Orwell’s Emmanuel Goldstein, “one must be able to dislocate the sense of reality”.
A philosophically dislocated anti-capitalist movement that has lost all sense of what it is fighting against and what it is fighting for will never be able to persuade the rest of the population of its arguments and thus will never represent any kind of threat to the dominant system.
It is not just in France (see above), of course, that police brutality continues to rear its ugly pig-faced head. On February 23, a blind man was tasered by UK police in Levenshulme, Manchester. Shamefully, mainstream media reports like this one obediently echoed the absurd police claim that “his cane was mistaken for a gun”. About as credible as accidentally raping someone with your truncheon…
* * *
The battle to Keep Our Downs Public in Eastbourne (see Acorn 29) is intensifying, as the borough council tries to avoid responding to public opinion. The town hall spin doctors have tried to pull a fast one by promoting a “poll” in their own council publication featuring totally one-sided information and a blackmail-style question asking residents whether they prefer the sale of Downland farms or cuts to front-line services! Unimpressed, hundreds took to the streets of the Sussex town to protest on February 25 – see this video report.
Fancy being part of an autonomous network made up of local groups and individuals from the anarchist movement based in the UK? You might want to get along to LARC at 62 Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel, London E1 1ES on Sunday March 12, 1pm-3pm, for the latest national meeting of the Anarchist Action Network.
* * *
Hundreds of people protested against fracking in two different parts of northern England on February 25. Some 1,000 people gathered near Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool in Lancashire for a rally, after which dozens of protesters managed to invade the fracking site. And more than 400 people took part in a march from Mosborough, near Sheffield, to Marsh Lane in Derbyshire where INEOS has announced plans for what could be its first shale gas site. Full report at drillordrop.com
* * *
A direct action protest by Rising Up! blocked access to three terminals of London’s Heathrow Airport on February 21 in opposition to the planned third runway. The activists included both climate campaigners and local people fearful of increased pollution, loss of homes and green space and the destruction of entire villages to pave the way for yet more aviation profit.
* * *
Acorn quote: “Faith in the fundamental goodness of man; humility in the presence of natural laws; reason and mutual aid – these are the qualities that can save us. But they must be unified and vitalized by an insurrectionary passion, a flame in which all virtues are tempered and clarified, and brought to their most effective strength”.
An important focus of European anti-capitalist resistance is likely to come under brutal attack from the industrial system any day now, activists are warning.
Official papers authorising the start of work on a new Nantes airport in France were signed on September 14 and the ZAD (Zone à Défendre or Zone to Defend) is currently on full alert.
Mainstream media are reporting that the protesters are ready to resist any attempt at eviction of the zone at Notre-Dame-des-Landes (NDDL).
Since it was established in 2008, the ZAD at NDDL has become much more than an eco protest camp. It is a symbol of resistance, an autonomous zone where the cops stay away and people are able to experiment with different ways of living, growing their own food, baking their own bread, publishing their own newspaper, running their own radio station and, most recently, setting up their own library.
The French state, in cahoots with corporate developer Vinci, has long wanted to get rid of the ZAD. A previous attempt in 2012, involving 1,200 police and two helicopters, failed when the cleared areas were rapidly reoccupied.
Now, with the help of the extra police powers under the “state of emergency” introduced and prolonged as an “anti-terrorist” measure, and in the wake of six months of state violence against the social revolt around the Loi Travail across France, the authorities are set to try again.
There were strong rumours this week that a massive military-style operation to evict the ZAD could start as soon as September 26 and 27 – according to media reports, as many as 3,000 gendarmes (military-style police) could be involved.
One activist said: “All the hotels in the area are full, gendarmes are not allowed to take annual leave for the coming month, schools and churches around the ZAD are closing simultaneously on September 26.” There is talk of military equipment having been loaned to the gendarmes.
It also seems likely that the state will make use of tooled-up private security thugs, who were used against anti-nuclear protesters at Bure earlier in the year – making it easier to deny responsibility for injuries (or even deaths) among activists.
The ZAD has issued an urgent wishlist of materials and equipment needed to defend the zone, including palettes, tyres, paint, bikes, oil lamps, boots, socks, phones, radios and walkie-talkies.
The full French version is here and the English one here.
There is already a call-out for supporters to go to the ZAD for a pre-arranged solidarity mobilisation on Saturday October 8.
2. Indigenous peoples lead fight against fracking pipeline
Resistance is growing across the USA and beyond to a £3.8 billion thousand-mile pipeline being built to carry fracked oil – forcing the courts to order a temporary halt to part of the work.
As well as damaging vast areas of countryside, the Dakota Access Pipeline is also planned to cross the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and affect numerous other sites sacred to indigenous nations.
The struggle to halt the pipeline has brought together more than 100 indigenous groups and sparked a wave of solidarity actions on top of the feisty on-site resistance.
Like the ZAD in France, the conflict is a powerful illustration of the single most significant task facing the human species at this stage in our collective history – how to defy and destroy the industrial capitalist cancer which threatens all life on the planet.
Of course, where there is resistance there is always repression and in Dakota there have been dozens of arrests, a local state of emergency declared and the protest camp’s water supply has been controversially cut off.
Native American activist Winona LaDuke said: “So, a lot of people are coming here, united, a whole host of Native and non-Native people. And there are a lot of people that just do not believe that this should happen any more in this country, that are very willing to put themselves on the line, non-Indian people, you know, as well as tribal members, and they are here. And it is a beautiful place to defend.”
#NoDAPL Solidarity explain that, if completed, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), would run from the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota to Peoria, Illinois, passing underneath the Missouri River, the longest river on the North American continent.
They add: “Construction of the DAPL would engender a renewed fracking-frenzy in the Bakken shale region, as well as endanger a source of fresh water for the Standing Rock Sioux and 8 million people living downstream”.
But the fight has reached much further than the lands actually threatened by the pipeline. Say #NoDAPL Solidarity: “The DAPL is a massive project being organized by a shady group of the world’s largest fossil-fuel companies and banks. They have offices in cities around the world. Putting direct, nonviolent pressure on the corporations building and funding this project is critical for supporting frontline resistance to DAPL.”
An excellent new guide to the insidious threat of “green” capitalism has been published by Corporate Watch in the UK.
It is a worrying trend of our times that too many environmentalists are taken in by the lie that “alternative” energy sources and techno-fixes are all that are needed to save the world, rather than the destruction of the entire money-based industrial capitalist system that is choking it to death.
The authors of A-Z of Green Capitalism explain:”Capitalism thrives on crisis, and the multiple global environmental crises, including climate change and habitat and biodiversity loss, are creating new markets from which to generate profit. Those promoting green capitalism argue that if nature was valued correctly it will not only be protected, but even enhanced, along with the health of the economy and well-being in society.
“However, it is a contradiction in terms. Capitalism is fundamentally exploitative of people and the natural world, it is not and cannot be ‘green’. Green capitalism involves various institutions, including governments, corporations, think tanks, charities and NGOs, implementing policies, practices and processes to incorporate nature into capitalist market systems.
“It takes the same capitalist ideas and values that create environmental crises – i.e. continual economic growth, private property, profit and ‘free’ markets – and applies them to the natural world as a way to solve those crises. It serves to maintain capitalism’s dominance, both through finding new ways to generate profit, and as a way of protecting it from criticism of being environmentally destructive”.
The guide insists that the “values” of capitalism are simply incompatible with the interests of the living planet, whatever it may claim.
“Green capitalism functions as a way to deflect questions over the role of capitalism in creating the problems in the first place, or its capacity to deal with them.
“Nature includes all lifeforms, including other sentient beings. These other forms of life don’t exist just for the purpose of serving human needs. Nature has its own inherent value that cannot be expressed in financial or economic terms. All of this is ignored or even denied by the anthropocentric (human-centred) approach that capitalism and other exploitative systems are built on.
“This guide is intended as an introduction to the ideas surrounding green capitalism as well as the alternatives to it. We hope it will support attempts to resist the threat of green capitalism and create space for real ecological alternatives”.
Meanwhile, an article in September’s The Ecologist magazine explores why the idea of degrowth – which challenges the basic assumptions of the capitalist economy – is “gaining momentum”.
“At least one thing unites those activists and scholars: they all agree that the basic assumption of the necessity of economic growth is fatally flawed and in urgent need of correction simply because it undermines the conditions for humanity to thrive”.
“We will happily be having sex with robots soon, according to scientists,” announced a story in The Independent on September 7. It continued: “The ‘sexbots’ could be better than humans in bed and we could be looking at human-robot marriages by the year 2050, experts have claimed. Popularity of the machines has been rising as their realism continues to improve and soon could replace human companionship altogether.”
I don’t even know where to start with this! Perhaps with the use of the word “with”. You can’t have sex “with” robots because there is no mutuality involved. A robot is not a being, but a manufactured item, a machine giving the false impression of being alive.
But then maybe the word “sex” is even wronger. We don’t generally talk about “having sex” when there is only one person involved – I believe the usual term is “masturbation”. We’re not talking about “having sex with” anyone at all, but about the use (and, more importantly, the purchase!) of an advanced mechanical aid to wanking.
If they were honest about this, it wouldn’t be quite so bad. It’s the lying that I can’t stomach, and particularly the lie that there is no real difference between a living human being and a non-living consumer product.
It’s bad enough that in our messed-up society the “other” person is often reduced to the role of object by the self-obsessed modern individual. We see no other “subject” there, nobody real and sentient like Number One (supreme source of all reality and priority).
But this takes the whole thing a step further, to the point of assuming that we can no longer even tell the difference between appearance and reality, that we are so uninterested in the consciousness within another person (even one with whom we make love) that we would “happily” (there is a hint of irony here, surely? please!) accept a mere copy of another human being so long as this object fulfils a particular limited and rather basic physical role.
Let me be blunt about this: I don’t want to fuck a robot. If I do happen to have sex with anyone in the future I would very much like the experience to involve:
odours (other than burnt plastic)
sweat and the usual organic fluids
conversation before and after, if not during
a moment of intense near-spiritual connection with an amazing human being (preferably)
a human being (as a bare minimum)
So, Mister Technoballs, away with your smart-seductions and artificially augmented ardour. I’m not interested in downloading an orgasm. You can stuff your nano-nooky up your sterile sexbot. And, while you’re at it, kindly pull the whole of your industrial capitalist system out at the plug and let us get back to some real living and loving, as Mother Nature intended.
Thailand is slipping further into tyranny, with the military junta that seized power in 2014 strengthening its rule and effectively outlawing all criticism of the state and the corporate interests it represents.
On Tuesday September 20, Bangkok South Criminal Court announced a shock guilty verdict against British migrant rights defender Andy Hall in a criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act charges case brought against him by Natural Fruit Company Ltd.
The Court found Andy Hall guilty of all charges, sentenced him to prison for four years and ordered him to pay 150 000 baht fine. His prison sentence was reduced by one year to three years and suspended for two years because of his record as a human rights defender. Andy will appeal the ruling.
The charges related to publication in 2013 of a report called Cheap Has a High Price by Finnwatch, a Finnish civil society organisation. The report outlined allegations of serious human rights violations at Natural Fruit’s pineapple processing plant in Prachuap Khiri Khan province in Thailand.
Said Sonja Vartiala, executive director of Finnwatch: ”We are shocked by today’s verdict. The report was authored and published by Finnwatch; we take full responsibility for it. Andy has been made a scapegoat in order to stifle other voices that speak out legitimately in support of migrant worker rights.
”This is a sad day for freedom of expression in Thailand. We fear that many other human rights defenders and victims of company abuse will be scared to silence by this ruling.”
At the same time, a new report from Privacy International examines the sinister rise of social media based surveillance in the South East Asian country, carried out potentially by people’s own networks of friends and family.
After the 2014 military coup, in which a military government led by General Prayut Chan-o-cha seized power and overthrew the administration of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the army declared martial law, which was maintained for the following 10 months.
The declaration of martial law allowed the Thai authorities to take strict public order measures, including reportedly closely monitoring ‘delinquent’ behaviour such as eating sandwiches in the street or reading George Orwell’s books.
A new constitution was passed in August via a very dodgy referendum, of which no monitoring was allowed by the junta. Activists opposing the document were arrested, detained, and prosecuted in military courts, whilst voters who expressed their intention to vote against the draft were also arrested and prosecuted by the military regime.
Generally, the junta has been cracking down on anyone challenging the Thai establishment – political cases usually revolve around the use of Thailand’s lèse-majesté law (criticising the royal family), the Computer Crimes Act and the sedition law.
Says the Thai Political Prisoners website: “There are no accurate figure on how many have been charged under these draconian laws. 2010 estimates were that there have been more than 300 cases since the 2006 palace-military coup.
“The 2014 coup saw a massive spike in lèse-majesté cases. It is now calculated that the period since the May 2014 military coup has seen more lèse-majesté cases than ever before under any government in Thailand.
“Cases are seldom dropped outright, not least because prosecutors themselves worry about being charged with lèse-majesté for dropping a case”.
Privacy International reports that the NCPO [the Orwellian-named National Council for Peace and Order] is seeking ever-broadening powers. In March 2015 it issued orders giving its officers the power to: search premises, people, and vehicles; summon and arrest people; confiscate property; and request information without a warrant if they suspect illegal activities.
“The government has various ways of identifying the authors of what it deems to be illegal content on social media; in some cases, the government has arrested opponents in the streets during protests and forced them to hand over their social media passwords. The Thai police has also reportedly created a fake application to phish the data of users trying to log on to Facebook.
“According to online newspaper Prachatai, in May 2014, Police Major General Pisit Paoin, the head of a government-appointed working group responsible for censoring the internet, revealed his plan to spy on social media and chat apps. ‘We’ll send you a friend request. If you accept the friend request, we’ll see if anyone disseminates information which violates the NCPO orders. Be careful, we’ll soon be your friend,’ he said.
The report details instances of police posing as social media “friends” in order to lure activists into traps and jail sentences.
Can we expect similar controls to be deployed in “the West” in the near future, as the capitalist system is threatened by popular resistance?
As far as denouncing fellow citizens is concerned, we only need to think of the permanent “terrorist” scare and the reports of people being dragged off aircraft for speaking Arabic or generally appearing to be Muslim.
And France already has its own semi-permanent state of emergency – martial law is not just something that happens “elsewhere”.
There may well be a connection between international acceptance of the Thai dictatorship and the fact that Thailand’s U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield is currently the “only facility in Southeast Asia capable of supporting large-scale logistical operations”. Thailand has allowed the US to use U-Tapao to land and refuel after traveling across the Pacific Ocean on the way to US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Thailand is designated by the USA as a “major non-NATO ally”, meaning that although it is not technically in NATO, it is very much a close US ally with strategic working relationships with US Armed Forces – and other agencies.
Only this month, the Bangkok Post carried a revelation from a former CIA agent that the Thai king had secretly sent a 4,000-strong force of US-trained Thai soldiers known as Tahan Sua Pran to help the US in the Vietnam War.
The social war has begun again in France after a summer break – and looks set to intensify in the run-up to the presidential elections due next spring.
September 15 saw protests and strikes all over the country, with police violence immediately resuming the levels seen earlier in the year.
One trade unionist has lost the sight in one eye after being hit by a fragment of a grenade fired indiscriminately into the crowd in Paris by a CRS riot cop.
Although the protest movement was originally about the neoliberal labour reform which has now been pushed through parliament by the ruling so-called “Socialist” Party, it quickly became about much more and that energy is still very much alive.
The erosion of working conditions, the imposition of a US-style neoliberal economy, the militarisation of society, institutional racism, police violence, the draconian state of emergency and the whole misery of life in a capitalist slave-system have all contributed to a heated political climate.
The Lundi matin website has published a handy round-up of the action all across France, from which we have stolen a few highlights.
In Rennes, there were tense confrontations with police and the usual charges and tear gas. Activists were pleased to note that a significant number of trade unionists “crossed the line” which often divides protesters and went to the aid of radical masked-up comrades.
In Le Havre 12,000 protesters took to the streets, led by the dockers. People set fire to bins and blocked access to a business, Saverglass, in solidarity with trade unionists facing discrimination. Their aim was to “block the economy”.
In Rouen, protesters smashed the windows of the right-wing Les Républicains party, with the Socialist Party HQ also damaged. Shops and banks were also targeted and tear gas deployed by police.
In Dijon, the front of the union-organised march was taken over by a radical and youthful block which was in full voice, singing of the memory of the Paris Commune and their hatred of the police.
In Nantes, a 6,000-strong protest faced unprecedented police repression, with local activists heard remarking: “I’ve never seen anything like this before, you’d think we were in East Germany”.
There was apparently a great atmosphere in Lille, as well as numerous confrontations with police. “Something new happened”, according to the report, in that there was a joyful and determined unity to the protest and it was impossible to tell the “good” protesters from the naughty troublemakers.
The next few months in France are going to be very interesting.
* A three-part documentary video about this year’s ongoing uprising can be seen on the Taranis News website.
One day while he was sitting under an olive tree, contemplating the earth, the sky and the dimensions of the cosmos, there came to the wise Perantulo a man on horseback. His face was obscured by a richly decorated silk scarf and he was accompanied by a dozen mounted warriors, whose scimitars glistened in the sun.
The man was none other than the Sultan of Khaluvia, who had received word of the teaching, the healing and the presence of Perantulo and wanted to see for himself this legendary fakir. The Sultan dismounted and approached the sage, unwinding his scarf so that he could be fully seen. He was plainly of noble character and had the look of one endowed with both intelligence and mental strength, but Perantulo saw at once that there was much that separated him from Knowledge. Having ascertained that this was indeed the sage he had been seeking, and after whom he had been enquiring for many days, the Sultan looked silently into Perantulo’s eyes and Perantulo looked silently and unflinchingly back. This moment stretched out until it became uncomfortable for the Sultan’s warriors, who did not understand what was happening and longed for it to end. But none dared move so much as a muscle or utter so much as the softest of whispered sighs as the two men remained locked in mutual scrutiny.
Finally, the Sultan dropped to his knees and, with tears welling in his eyes, declared: “Never before, Perantulo, have I seen in the eyes of man or woman what I have just discovered in yours. I must confess that I have wondered these last days whether the rumours of your wisdom were not exaggerated by the loose tongues of gossiping embellishers, but now I know that their inaccuracy strayed in the opposite direction to that which I had feared to be the case. Your reputation does not do you justice, Perantulo, and I say this without having heard you utter one word or move one finger. I beseech you, O Holy Man, to show me how I can see what you see, know what you know, shine as you shine”.
There was a long pause. Perantulo remained so still that a small green lizard walked up one arm, across the back of his neck, and down the other.
And then he told the Sultan: “It is a fine thing, O Great Ruler, that you have come here and spoken thus. Your people are fortunate indeed to be led by a man of your sensibility. But it is no easy thing you seek. The path is long and steep and you would do well to bear in mind the fable of the traveller who feasts on his supplies in celebration at having reached the lofty summit of his destination only to realise, when the mists lift, that he has merely conquered the lowest of the foothills that come before the plain that leads to the sea across which lies the mountain he would ascend”.
“I know the path is long, kind sage. Fear not – the mist of impatience will not blind me on my journey,” spoke the Sultan.
Perantulo waited for another long moment – moments for him bore little relation to the moments of ordinary men. He was so still that a golden butterfly alighted on his upper lip and preened itself for a while before fluttering on its way.
“Very well,” said the old philosopher to the Sultan. “But you should know that the task ahead of you involves three stages. The first, which is quick and easy, is to express the Desire for True Knowledge. The second, which will be painful to you and to those who love you, is to rid yourself of all obstacles that can prevent the Torch of Eternal Truth from shining through you. This stage is dangerous for one whose commitment is not complete, for one who is not strong enough to bear the hatred of others or for one who is not supple enough inside to absorb the hurt. It is a dark voyage from which you may never emerge, O Sultan-most-Splendid”.
The Sultan, a pensive frown creasing his brow, drew a deep breath: “And the third stage, O Holy Perantulo?”
“The third stage,” replied the fakir, “can only be imagined when the first two stages have been completed”.
The Sultan nodded. “So be it,” he said. “I have understood”.
And then he sprang to his feet, turned to his bemused men, and roared: “Let you all stand witness, my warriors, that your master, the Sultan of Khaluvia, today expresses his unquenchable commitment to the Desire for True Knowledge, that from this moment forth his days among mankind will be devoted to no other cause and that nothing and nobody can stand in the way of his Quest. Now we will ride, ride, ride – back to our famous City of Alzorika, which will soon become famed not just for its wealth, its learning and its arts, but for the devotion of its 75th Sultan to the Glory of All Being!”
He leapt on to his horse, raised his sword in the air as a sign of his energy and determination, then span to face the sage, who was still seated under the tree.
“Perantulo!” he cried, the fire of zeal scorching from his eyes. “Perantulo! I have heard your words and I will hold them in my heart! I will return!”
Environmental activists blocked flights at London City Airport on September 6 in a Black Lives Matter protest highlighting the disproportionate impact of air pollution on black communities living near airports. Nine people launched a dawn action at the small airport used by rich businesspeople and managed to put up a tripod on the runway and lock themselves together.
* * *
More than 24,000 inmates in at least 40 prisons from over two dozen states in the USA have been taking part in the national prison strike which began on September 9. Despite a virtual media blackout, it is clear that this is the biggest prison strike in US history, with inmates refusing to follow orders, failing to report for work and causing prisons to go on lockdown. The main focus of the strike is the modern-day slavery still legal in the prison system, in which businesses profit from free or very cheap forced labour. Said Azzura Crispino of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee: “Prisoners getting paid a wage at all for their labor is rare. The system is doing exactly what it’s designed to do: Extract as much money off the backs of prisoners as possible.” There are calls for international solidarity actions.
* * *
In the face of ongoing violence in the Philippines – with a bombing in Davao City killing 14 people and the “war on drugs” seeing almost 2,000 people summarily executed – local anarchists are keeping up the struggle. On September 4, Food Not Bombs Baliuag protested against all the violence and war by providing free meal to people affected by poverty and hunger in the park of Baliuag, Bulacan. They have also staged a free market, sharing and giving away used clothes to those most in need.
* * *
We have one year to close DSEI – that’s the message from anti-militarist campaigners 12 months ahead of the next arms fair in London’s Docklands. The big event, at which besuited individuals aim to make huge profits out of other people’s deaths, is due to be held from September 12 to 15 2017 at Excel London. Unless…
* * *
The anarchist view of evolution, as being primarily about mutual aid and co-operation rather than competition and individualism, has been confirmed by recent research. Dr Benjamin Rubin, of Princeton University, said: “We originally set out to uncover the genetic basis of mutualistic behaviour in ants. So, we sequenced the genomes of three mutualistic species of plant-ants and four of their closely related, non-mutualistic relatives. We were surprised to learn that the mutualists actually had a higher rate of evolution across their genomes than the generalists.” Peter Kropotkin, anarchist scientist and author of the classic Mutual Aid, would not have been surprised, we imagine…
* * *
Anarchy in a Cold War is a novel by Kurtis Sunday set in the West Berlin alternative-squatter-Punk scene during the latter part of the Cold War. The city, a focal point in the conflict between East and West, was a capitalist enclave smack in the middle of Communist East Germany. It was entirely surrounded by the Berlin Wall, complete with razor wire and machine gun posts. There is much that is familiar and much that is not. The Cold War is raging and the missiles are armed and waiting in their silos. If nuclear war breaks out there will be a four-minute warning. There is no internet and perhaps NO FUTURE. Reality? Sur-reality? Or hyper-reality?
* * *
Acorn quote: “The life of the psyche is the life of mankind. Welling up from the depths of the unconscious, its springs gush forth from the root of the whole human race, since the individual is, biologically speaking, only a twig broken off from the mother and transplanted”. C.G. Jung, Symbols of Transformation
On other occasions, they are fissures in the fabric of the political system itself, in one of the many protective walls that it has built to hide the truth of its essential falsity.
This is what has been happening in the UK in recent weeks, with the post-referendum chaos and the push by the neoliberal establishment to regain control of the Labour Party and oust leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Of course, from an anti-capitalist and anarchist point of view, Corbyn’s brand of politics is still part of the overall system we oppose.
But what is important is that for the ruling elite even this vaguely socialist form of capitalism falls outside the range of possible positions it is prepared to tolerate, particularly as it is combined with a critical stance regarding NATO and with a support for Palestinian rights.
The establishment is thus prepared to use all the weapons at its disposal to dislodge Corbyn and prevent him from retaining leadership of the Labour Party.
Every small success for Corbyn and his friends means that his opponents have to up the ante and resort to methods they would rather not have used.
And the more of these methods they are forced to use, the more they necessarily reveal about themselves and about the agendas they serve.
Take, for instance, the revelation by Craig Murray (followed by further details in The Canary) that the anti-Corbyn “heckler” at Gay Pride was Tom Mauchline, a Blairite PR professional working for Portland Communications.
The way that the “news story” of the heckling was fabricated and served up by complicit media outlets such as The Guardian goes a long way to exposing the techniques behind the systematic corporate propaganda laughably known as “journalism”.
Some of the wheeler-dealers behind the scenes have been forced to show their faces in public as their efforts become more desperate – such as rich Labour Party donor Michael Foster, who has applied to the High Court to try and overturn the decision to put Corbyn on the leadership ballot paper.
Reported The Guardian: “Foster, a former showbiz agent who has given more than £400,000 to the party since 2010, came to prominence during the last Labour party conference, after he confronted Corbyn at a Labour Friends of Israel reception, angered the Labour leader had not mentioned the word ‘Israel’ in his address to the meeting. ‘Say the word “Israel”,’ he shouted at Corbyn, who is a long-standing pro-Palestinian campaigner.”
Foster’s approach was well illustrated by a 2015 report from The Independent on his bid to become an MP, which quoted an account from a rival candidate Loveday Jenkin, of the small Mebyon Kernow party. “Having got a laugh at hustings by mentioning Mr Foster’s £1.5m home in the poorest constituency in England, she claimed he had erupted in response, calling her ‘a cunt’ and threatening: ‘If you pick on me again, I will destroy you’.”
The blatantly right-wing agendas behind the scenes, the absurd and hysterical rhetoric (including the conflation of pro-Palestinian views with antisemitism) and the frantic rule-bending and gerrymandering of the Labour Party’s anti-Corbyn bureaucracy have opened many people’s eyes to what this organisation really amounts to.
And this is good news for all dissidents, as it pushes more people towards an understanding of how the system actually operates, of how its “democracy” is a lie and the political scene is carefully managed to prevent the slightest possibility of real change.
Look at this online comment, for example, following the suspension of the pro-Corbyn Brighton, Hove and District Labour Party by its own head office.
“The establishment don’t want real people to have any say in politics. Infiltrated steering committees which set the party rules and determine policy have always been the guarantee of the establishment that they will always maintain control. This should now be obvious to all.
“The panic we are seeing in the NEC is the establishment realising they have spooked the herd as they would say. In other words the people are waking up and the ruling class with their agents and place men in the PLP and NEC are getting caught out in the consciousness shift.
“They are petrified of losing power and having to face the consequences of their immoral and illegal actions. They are determined to stop Corbyn at all costs because they fear the situation snowballing beyond their control but it’s already too late… I believe we’re seeing the start of a revolution. There’s no turning back now.”
This healthy scepticism about the political establishment, combined with an awareness that the British secret state does indeed infiltrate political parties in order to keep control of them, is something that worries the elite.
The findings of the Chilcot Inquiry, although inevitably designed for damage limitation, were only as damning as they were because the public already knew that Blair had lied about Iraq, had ignored the people’s views and was working for US neocon interests.
The result of the Brexit referendum was not unrelated to this spiralling lack of confidence in those who set themselves up as “the authorities”.
David Cameron’s wriggling around his family’s tax affairs, as revealed in the Panama Papers, and the doom-mongering propagandistic tone adopted by the Remain campaign all fuelled a general distrust in the powers-that-be.
Members of the privileged political classes were shocked by the complete contempt in which many of us hold the establishment and everything it tells us. One “strategist” complained: “The public just said they lie and pull the wool over our eyes. I asked one woman to give me an example of these lies, and she said, ‘9/11’.”
It barely matters whether or not you think the distrust on specific issues is justified (the idea that pencils rather than pens were provided at the EU poll so that the Remain camp could later rub out the pro-Brexit crosses was maybe a little off-target!) when you understand the significance of the fact that a large part of the population no longer believes a word the authorities say!
The more pressure that is heaped on the power elite, the more they are forced to show their hand and reveal themselves and the more they have to resort to blatantly unfair and undemocratic methods to hold on to power, the more people will see through the lies behind their phoney “democracy”.
And the more the system’s media lackeys scream that we are all ignorant extremists, crazed conspiracy theorists and dangerous apologists for terrorism, the surer we can be that we have got them on the back foot, that their power is crumbling, that they are fast losing control.
As blogger Johnny Void argues: “What is now needed is escalation on all fronts. It’s time to move beyond marching or empty speeches, and to forge a struggle that makes the ruling class tremble. The EU, an institution that is neo-liberal to the core and an austerity machine, has been defeated in the UK.
“The architects of cut throat capitalism are in disarray. There will never be a bigger opportunity, the future is there for the taking and we have more power than we ever dreamed of.”
2. Panicking French state tries to build right-wing militia
Panic at the top of the French state is prompting a slide towards an openly fascistic form of control, with a constantly renewed “state of emergency” now extended until the end of January 2017 and an attempt to build a “patriotic” reserve force reminiscent of the pro-Nazi wartime militia or milice.
As we have previously reported in The Acorn, while the immediate justification for the draconian measures is always “terrorism”, whether at Charlie Hebdo, the Bataclan or Nice, the French state has no qualms about using them against internal political dissent.
Most of the 2,000 raids in the wake of the November attacks were of course on Muslim communities – shocking accounts emerged of sneering police taking sadistic delight in their state-sanctioned racist intimidation.
But the authorities also very quickly used the new powers to clamp down on protests around the COP21 summit in Paris, for instance, raiding the homes of anti-capitalist activists and placing them under “preventative” house arrest until the summit was over.
The French state’s attempts to conflate anti-capitalist resistance with terrorism have so far floundered – its long-running determination to prosecute the “Tarnac” rebels as so-called “terrorists” has now finally failed, for instance, with the prosecutors’ appeal against last year’s legal decision rejected.
And the easy exploitation of terrorist attacks to create a mood of “national unity” and rallying behind the government is no longer working – people are instead blaming their political leaders for failing to stop the killing, despite all their rhetoric and powers.
There is a growing wave of rebellion across the country, on a scale unseen for decades. While this has in recent months taken the form of a battle against the neoliberal Loi Travail, now finally being pushed through parliament using special measures that bypass the need for a vote, the root causes are much deeper.
This was very clear in the way that the movement against the Loi Travail quickly took on the shape of a movement against the state of emergency and the “anti-terrorist” politics of fear, against the perpetual lies and distortions of the corporate media used to demonise any real opposition to the corrupt elite and, importantly, against the state-authorised violence of the police and gendarmes against the population.
More fury broke out on Tuesday July 19 and Wednesday July 20 after a young black man, Adama Traoré, died in custody on his 24th birthday after being arrested in Val d’Oise, just north of Paris.
He was a fit and active young man and his family have no time for the spurious claim by gendarmes that he died of a “heart condition” (see this interview with his mother).
The violent way in which the cops dealt with friends of family gathered in the street is shown in this short video.
The shock and anger spread to the streets, with two nights of rioting. At least one police vehicle was torched (see this video).
Authorities said on the morning of Thursday July 21 that 9 people had been arrested for firearms offences, throwing Molotov cocktails police and trying to burn down the town hall at Beaumont.
On top of all this there is the ZAD, a free zone of rebellion set up in opposition not just to the threat of a new airport in the countryside north of Nantes, but also in defiance of the whole industrial capitalist system.
The French state and its corporate backers are itching to evict and crush this important symbol of resistance, but know it will not be taken without a massive battle involving tens or hundreds of thousands of supporters from across France and beyond (including the UK).
Perhaps the authorities intend deploying the right-wing militia promoted by interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve after the Nice massacre, using the same language of “national cohesion” and “French patriots” that was used by Nazi collaborators in their war on the French Resistance.
3.Black July: Berlin resists gentrification, eviction and the state
Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Berlin to oppose gentrification and support a left-wing squat.
Rioting broke out on July 9 as a call for a “Black July” of resistance prompted a feisty display of defiance.
In a statement published after the protest, activists declared: “We hate the cops in every way and the riots during the demonstration on Saturday bring us joy. We don’t only want to kick the state out of our street, but also want it out of our lives.“
94 Rigaer Strasse was attacked by police in June and partly evicted, but squatters have managed to stay put in part of the well-known and important alternative space in the German capital.
Squads of police have been laying siege to the building day and night, with helicopters circling overhead.
On Saturday July 9 at least 3,500 people took to the streets in the Friedrichshain district, formerly part of East Berlin – see this video.
As can be seen by the numbers on the march as captured by this video, this is not an example of an isolated activist campaign with no roots in the community.
Reports the BBC: “Many of the neighbours live in housing collectives and sympathise with the squatters, who see themselves as a left-wing alternative to gentrification and rising rents. During the protest, some neighbours beat spoons against pots in support of the squatters.”
The statement from Rigaer94 says (in part): “We are a political housing project consisting of a diversity of people, and a house with the best neighbours you could imagine. We are united by the will to fight against the violent conditions that the state is consistently trying to enforce (especially against us in the past few weeks).
“Our passion for freedom forces us into daily conflict with our surroundings, with institutions as well as with servants of the state, nazis, sexists and other assholes. Within this conflict we are also confronted by our own contradictions, but this should never hinder us from working on a revolutionary praxis and from creating, through autonomous struggles, space in which we can develop relations to other people.
“Since a final analysis of our ideas only makes sense once we have achieved our goals of freedom, self-determination and enrichment, for now, we can only say that the latest happenings are an early affirmation of this autonomous struggle.
“What the state views as a dangerzone, is an attempt to create a self-organized and resistant zone, where the people live together without institutionalized violence and without representation by politicians, managers or other institutions.
“Success is already apparent: mass politicization of new generations of rioters, skillsharing in the neighbourhood, opening-up of structures and the collectivization of resources, more and better communication between us and others, self-empowerment, international resonance and destroying feelings of powerlessness and fear of repression etc.
“With the knowledge of the unresolvable contradictions in our small nucleus of social-revolutionary struggle, we called for a Black July. The decentralized concepts and calls to send Berlin into chaos are an alternative to the struggle within the framework of cultural political norms.
“The informal organisation and free association of decentralized networks that create their own rules, has always a strength. Especially in times when the state seeks to eradicate its enemies. Looking at the elements of psychological terror of the siege by the police and at the warlike rhetoric of their leaders, we have come to the conclusion that they do want to break us.
“We hate the cops in every way and the riots during the demonstration on Saturday bring us joy. We don’t only want to kick the state out of our street, but also want it out of our lives. The last weeks have only strengthened our position.
“Soyons ingouvernables! Seien wir unregierbar! Let’s be ungovernable!”
Courageous Italian environmental campaigners are holding firm in their opposition to a horrendously destructive high-speed railway project, in the face of shocking state repression.
The NO TAV struggle against the proposed rail link between Lyons and Turin, which would completely ruin the Susa valley in the Alps, has been ongoing since the 1990s and has mobilised whole communities as well as prompting widespread solidarity.
In particular, the violence of the policing and the repressive attitude of the state has radicalised people who might otherwise have remained unaware of the full brutality of the industrial capitalist system.
In their latest assault on the campaign, the Italian authorities launched dawn raids on the homes of NO TAV supporters on June 21.
Various punishments were meted out on 23 people of all ages, all accused of taking part in a 5,000-strong unauthorised protest on June 28 2015, in the course of which a section of fencing around the construction site was pulled down.
Some were jailed and others put under house arrest. Several, however, have refused to comply with the restrictions on their liberty, among them Nicoletta, a 70-year-old retired classics teacher.
In an interview with the Constellations website, she described last year’s crunch protest as “a big day out for the people, with all age-groups forming a huge, colourful and joyful snake, which was interrupted at a certain point by unacceptable and insurmountable barriers, and poisoned by clouds of tear gas.
“I won’t disown a single step or action of that day, which was my right and duty of resistance.
“For this reason I reject any restrictive measures which have been or will be imposed on me: I refuse to submit by signing on daily at the police station, and I will not allow my life to be confined by house arrest and my home to be turned into a prison.
“I will not be my own jailor. I feel with me the motivation and collective force of the oppressed, those who have nothing to lose but their chains, and a whole world to win”.
Massive protests and road blockades continue in Mexico, a month after 12 people were killed and more than 100 injured when police attacked members of a teachers’ union in Oaxaca on June 19. The rebellion is not just about education but about general “structural reforms” being imposed in Mexico, as across the neoliberal world. Teachers in Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Michoacán, and Mexico City have held marches almost daily, set up permanent encampments in city centres, seized tollbooths in daily highway blockades, and even blocked trains. This video, Nochixtlan tierra de gente valiente, explains more about the struggle.
* * *
Anti-nuclear protesters in eastern France have re-occupied woods at Bure targeted for radioactive waste burial. After a camp was evicted on July 7, determined activists gathered in Lorraine on Saturday July 16 and managed to re-establish the rural occupation. A local media report (which also includes a video) comments that the site will perhaps become “a new ZAD (Zone À Défendre)”.
* * *
It’s a very strange thing, the world of “terrorism“… What are we to make, for example, of the claim by a Russian survivor of the Nice attack that it involved not one terrorist but two – one driving and the other shooting? That would certainly provide an explanation for the otherwise puzzling concentration of bullet holes on the (European) passenger side of the windscreen (see below). But why are no other witnesses apparently referring to this second attacker? Meanwhile, an interesting general insight from a policeman in Florida, USA. In an interview with the Vero Beach Press Journal, Sheriff Ken Mascara of Florida’s St Lucie County reveals that the FBI tried to trick Orlando gay club killer Omar Mateen into committing a terror plot in 2013 through the planting of an informant in his life. He said the FBI dispatched this mystery person to “lure Omar into some kind of act”.
* * *
Countryside campaigners in Sussex, UK, are battling plans by a local council to sell off parts of the South Downs currently owned by the public. Eastbourne Borough Council wants to sell Black Robin Farm, Bullock Down Farm, Cornish Farm and Chalk Farm. The millions of pounds raised would be used for urban projects such as the “redevelopment” of the Devonshire Park complex. The South Downs Society and the Campaign to Protect Rural England are both opposing the plans.
* * *
A No Borders Camp is to be held in the Ventimiglia area near the Italian-French frontier from August 5 to 10. Exact details will be released closer to the start, but the action is set to begin with a 9am meet-up on Friday August 5 on the French side at Tende (Vallée de la Roya) to protest against a road tunnel project threatening the local environment. “Stop the lorries and abolish the borders!” More information here.
* * *
Acorn quote: “And now we arrive at a crucial question: Is the Outsider strong enough to create his own tradition, his own way of thought, and to make a whole civilization think the same way?” Colin Wilson, Religion and The Rebel
1. “Terrorists” exposed as working for British state
The British state’s direct involvement in terrorism has been exposed by an official investigation.
The 160-page report by Northern Ireland’s Police Ombudsman, released on June 9, looks into the murders of six Catholic men watching football in a bar at Loughinisland, Co. Down on 18 June 1994, for which nobody has ever been prosecuted.
Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire declared: “I have no hesitation in unambiguously determining that collusion is a significant feature of the Loughinisland murders.”
Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, said the findings were “deeply disturbing”.
Irish opposition leader Mícheál Martin said the victims were simply watching Ireland playing Italy in the World Cup soccer competition when they were ruthlessly gunned down by loyalist killers.
“The fact that the police, who were entrusted with protecting the community, were embroiled in collusion with the death squad responsible for the massacre is sinister and disturbing,” the Fianna Fáil leader said.
He called on the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, to apologize for and retract a statement she made in a speech last February, where she said it wasn’t the police or the British Army who “pulled the triggers at Loughinisland.”
Villiers had said that “a pernicious counter-narrative” of the Troubles was emerging whereby responsibility for acts of terrorism was being shifted onto the security forces “through allegations of collusion, misuse of agents and informers or other forms of unlawful activity”.
Martin said her comments were “misleading and hurtful given the details of serious collusion that have now emerged”.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said the Ombudsman’s report was “just the latest exposing the depth of collusion involving British state forces and unionist paramilitaries”.
Paddy McCreanor, nephew of victim Daniel McCreanor, said: “Collusion is no illusion and collusion happened. The truth has come out and that’s all we ever wanted.”
The families’ lawyer Niall Murphy said: “This report is one of the most damning expositions of state collusion in mass murder that has ever been published.”
The coy phrasing in The Guardian’s report on the Ombudsman’s investigation illustrates the way the truth about the British state’s relationship with terrorism continues to be hidden from the British public and dismissed as some kind of crazed “conspiracy theory”.
Journalist Ian Cobain writes: “Senior loyalist paramilitaries who were employed as police informers at the height of the Troubles smuggled an arsenal of weapons into Northern Ireland that were then used in at least 70 murders and attempted murders”.
“Employed as police informers“? Paramilitaries employed by the police are nothing other than state assets, terrorists working for the British authorities. It’s as simple as that.
Continuing to couch the truth in careful, indirect language, Cobain writes: “While Maguire’s report stresses that many in the police have ‘worked tirelessly’ to bring the Loughinisland killers to justice, its damning conclusions will be seized upon by those who condemned Villiers’ comments, and who argue that security force collusion with loyalist terrorism was a central feature of the conflict.”
He adds that many in Northern Ireland are “unable to agree about the true nature of the conflict – or even the language that should be used to describe it”.
We would suggest that the appropriate language would include words such as “collusion”, “state”, “terrorism”, “deceit”, “lies” and “hypocrisy”.
Anyone keen to understand the “true nature” of the “Troubles”, which saw 2,618 people killed and more than 33,000 injured, might also want to look more closely at:
* Freddie Scappaticci, alias Stakeknife, the British agent who infiltrated the IRA to run its internal security and ordered 40 people to be murdered as security risks – presumably the wrong ones.
* Brian Nelson, the British agent who became the intelligence chief of the loyalist Ulster Defence Association – performing a similar role on the other side of the deadly maze of mirrors.
* The Birmingham Six, Guildford Four, and the Maguire Seven – all people wrongly convicted of republican bombing atrocities. Or maybe we should put some inverted commas around “republican”, because if they’re not responsible, who knows who was really behind the outrages and why the British establishment was so keen to find someone to blame for them. Incidentally, the Birmingham bomb led to the 1974 Labour government passing the original Prevention of Terrorism Act.
* The Omagh bombing of August 15 1998, generally blamed on a republican splinter group. Suspicious minds have pointed to the fact that public horror at the attack, in which 29 people died, allowed Tony Blair’s government to rush through controversial “emergency” anti-terrorist legislation, in the form of the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act 1998, less than a month later in September 1998. This allowed people to be convicted of belonging to a proscribed organisation merely on the say-so of a senior police officer, created an offence of conspiracy to commit offences abroad and generally prefigured more recent terrorist legislation. Helpfully, it included a clause giving “all crown agents immunity from prosecution under the legislation”.
* Constant suspicions of the involvement of the British state in sectarian killings, which still won’t go away, even though its focus switched suddenly to a new “war on terror” just as the “Troubles” were declared over. Questions have been asked about state involvement in the deaths of Rosemary Nelson, loyalist Billy “King Rat” Wright, catholic Robert Hamill and RUC officers Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan.
In 2012 Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to admit that the level of state collusion uncovered by a report into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane was “shocking” – though the report predictably concluded there had been “no overarching state conspiracy”. No, of course not.
A massive and dramatic day of resistance to the neoliberal Loi Travail was staged in Paris and across France on Tuesday June 14, with scenes in the capital described by witnesses as like a “war zone”.
An estimated million people marched in Paris, with the back end of the protest still waiting at the start of the route when the front had arrived at the destination. 1.3 million were on the streets across France.
The Paris march was led by the biggest autonomous bloc that has been seen in the city for several decades, with a strong international anti-capitalist participation.
It was attacked repeatedly and brutally by police using all the militaristic weaponry at their disposal – not just the usual batons, tear gas and grenades but also two water cannon, used in Paris for the first time.
Protesters responded to the police attempts to split the march with much determination and hails of stones.
Near the Duroc metro station, scene of some of the fiercest fighting, windows of the France’s overseas territories ministry were broken and its walls covered with graffiti – it was renamed the Ministry of Colonies.
Other buildings, from banks and estate agents’ to Starbucks were also targeted.
There were said to have been 58 arrests. The authorities ridiculously claimed only 40 people were injured, of whom 29 were supposedly cops and only 11 protesters! In reality, hundreds of protesters were hurt, many seriously, according to activist website Paris Luttes.
Levels of police violence and the cops’ utter contempt for the welfare of injured protesters are well illustrated by this shocking video.
After the main march, protesters regrouped in the evening for further unauthorised protests, which were again attacked by cops – notably the fascistic plain-clothed thugs of the “Bac” (“Anti-criminal brigades”).
This was the biggest turn-out yet against the Loi Travail, but still the state refuses to change its neoliberal course (see below). Instead it is now threatening to ban future protests if there is no “guarantee” that property and people will not be threatened.
This is unlikely to deter the resistance and more days of action and strikes are already being planned. Watch this space and follow us on Twitter for updates.
The real agenda behind France’s hotly-contested new labour laws has been helpfully spelled out by the country’s leading right-wing rag.
Le Figaro dedicated its front page and a special inside section on June 1 to the Loi Travail and the massive social struggle against it.
And the coverage makes it quite clear that the hated reforms are being violently imposed on the French people at the behest of the global financial elite.
It quotes the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, as saying the labour laws are the “minimum” that other European states expect of France, pointing out that other states have successfully imposed even harsher neoliberal measures.
It is clear that the massive scale and determination of the rebellion has left France’s capitalists rattled. You can almost see the blue blood boiling between the lines in Le Figaro‘s reports and comment.
It condemns the “violence and absurdity” of the social struggle and “this France where people can attack a police car with a metal bar, where a backward-looking trade union with a Marxist ideology can halt the trains, the metro, the ports, the airports, the oil refineries; where repeated demonstrations can degenerate into pitched battles.”
Nowhere does Le Figaro show any concern for the future of the French people affected by the laws – instead it merely whines about the effect of the protests on the tourist trade and the Euro2016 football, the reputation of the country among the global financial elite and the reaction of the “investors” – the capitalist sharks who are hoping to profit from the increased exploitation of the French workforce.
“France has lost its attractivity,” it moans. “Worse, it is becoming a country that people leave, from which they emigrate. Foreign investors are running away and we have lost count of the number of its children, graduates or not, who have left it. In search of a job, of a less harsh tax system, of lower levels of bureaucracy, of an attractive entrepreneurial freedom. In short, in search of a country which faces towards the future”.
It adds that France has become a “country of the past”, stuck with “archaic” acquired rights for workers, “incapable of modernising itself” and “with neither future nor horizon”.
These repeated mentions of the word “future” illustrate one of the big lies of the capitalist system. Note that Le Figaro doesn’t talk about “a” particular future which it would like to see come about, but “the” future!
This has always been the deception behind the capitalist myth of “progress” – that the increase of industrial exploitation is in some way welded to the passing of time itself, rather than being a specific direction that society happens to have taken.
Taking any other path has always been to attempt to “return to the past” or to “turn the clock back”, rather than moving forward in time to a non-industrial future.
Now the same trick is being used to scrap what few rights the population have managed to accrue for themselves over the last 200 years of industrial capitalism.
By equating “the future” with increased capitalist exploitation, and by dismissing resistance to that exploitation as “absurd”, Le Figaro reveals a totalitarian mindset in which even the possibility of a different vision of tomorrow is denied.
When this totalitarian attitude is enforced with violent policing methods to crush dissent, the resulting society is plainly far from being the “democracy” that it laughably claims to be…
“I was born upon the prairie, where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures and where everything drew a free breath. I want to die there and not within walls”. These were the words of Parra-Wa-Samen (Ten Bears) of the Yamparika Comanches. For his people, as Dee Brown explains, “land came from the Great Spirit, was as endless as the sky and belonged to no man”.
Here, surely, is an unchanging truth. Land is the surface of the Earth, which is billions of years old. How can it be said to be “owned” by transient individuals of one particular species temporarily populating its surface? And yet the huge majority of human beings born today find themselves denied the natural right to live and breathe freely on the planet on which they are born – of whose living substance, indeed, they are part.
The shocking depth of this dispossession is difficult for us to fully understand, from our limited perspective inside the very pit of this reality. It is also hard for us to grasp how we have slipped to this low point and how we have stayed there for so long. It is not difficult to imagine, of course, that there once might have been greedy, violent men (perhaps women, too!) who wanted to grab land for their own selfish use and exclude others. But, first, there must have been the idea that, contrary to the oldest traditions, land was not simply part of nature but could “belong” to somebody in particular.
Before the greedy men could desire to own it for themselves, there must have been a novel conception of land as being “ownable”. How did that happen? And then, once they had made their move and claimed an area for themselves and their kin, why did everyone else, the majority after all, let them get away with it? How did their theft become permanent? Crucially, at what point was their theft no longer seen as theft? At what point did it appear to be right and proper – so right and proper, in fact, that any attempt to undo this original theft would itself be considered a crime?
Ultimately, we are talking here about the origins of authority, which cannot be separated from the idea of land – the abstract notion of authority backs up the possession of land and thus wealth, while the possession of wealth provides the physical resources to enforce that authority in its real incarnation. How did Authority (with a capital ‘A’), as a force in its own right, come to pervert human society in this way?
We will consider its metaphysical aspects later in these pages (Chapter 10), but for the meantime all we need to know is that somehow, tragically, the land thieves got away with it. Over the centuries, people forgot that the land once belonged to nobody – could belong to nobody – and accepted the twin lies that not only did it indeed belong to somebody, but also that the persons who “owned” the land did so fairly.
What do we know about the past? Mostly what we’ve read in books. How much should we trust this stuff? What if it was all make-believe? What if actual historic events have been jumbled in time and location, repeated as fact in several places, over centuries? How would we know?
There have been dissident scholars in the past, over several centuries, who have pointed out that kings of different countries – with different titles and names – were in fact the same person. There are scholars from the 19th century into contemporary times who believe that the stories we’re told in daily and Sunday schools have been so convoluted as to make more than 1000 years of history irrelevant; a fantasy presented as reality in order to indoctrinate people into submitting to lives of servitude.
To grasp these possibilities as anything more than paranoid conspiracy, I have to ask the reader to keep historic events in mind in a particular era, during which humanity was enslaved by ruthless, savage raiders from Eurasia, for the enrichment of their aristocracies. This time includes the seizure of the commons in England, the discovery of 4/5ths of the world by the Christian kingdoms, the obliteration of cultures and civilizations worldwide, and ends with the inquisitions, which wiped out generations of accumulated folk wisdom, libraries, and the living memories of people who had seen some of the other land’s actual cultures, prior to their destruction.
After all this had cleared the slate, so to speak, Christian monks began writing much of what we think of as recorded history. Many supposedly ancient documents do not survive today in any form older than this period. As mentioned above, entire libraries were burned over the years. And during the inquisitions in Europe, many books – a much rarer commodity in those times – were burned as well, oftentimes along with the owners and authors. Some fields of science, particularly related to medicine and healthcare, are only now recovering this knowledge in the West. Mostly by learning from the few folks traditions that have survived into modern times.
To further obfuscate what is presented as historic fact, the calendar system used by the West has been “adjusted” several times. There are many, many instances of astronomically aligned stone circles, all over the world, that still accurately depict the passage of time and the cycles of the seasons. This means that thousands of years ago, people could accurately track time, but hundreds of years ago, the calendar had to be “adjusted.” What went wrong? My first guess would be religion.
We few began as wanderers in this wasteland, this wasted land, this land laid waste. Going through the motions every day, our hands passing over the assembly line, the steering wheel or the keyboard almost without our conscious awareness, as if ghost limbs.
We tell – or are told – the same story again and again of how we come to be here, of how we have ‘progressed’ into this age that clings to us like cellophane. Yet what is it, this thought which flashes unbidden across our minds while we submit to the bosses orders, or when we pass the clearcut forest?
Where does it lead, this chain of feelings we could allow ourselves to follow, hooked on the tailwings of the swooping swallow, or that draws us to a mountain or seashore? Why is it that our fingers twitch, curl into fists, become ours once more, when the newscasts and adverts blare, when the landlord knocks, when police approach?
Who are they, those friends whose company seems incommensurable with the hollow commodities, the acquisition of which keeps us apart; those voices who dare to challenge these values and way of life; those who tear away at this suffocating skin which has been grafted onto ours, bringing their heretical dreams to life again and again as feral beauty, bombs and beating hearts?
How could it be, that those moments could stretch on and on, while restrictions and categories peel away to fall as so much compost for the conspiracy of dandelions blooming atwixt the cracks, from an Earth we have learned to embrace once more?
Gather your strength, the reply from our bones counsels. Your fight seems to have begun for anarchy, for wildness.
This text appears at the beginning of the latest issue of the green anarchist zine Return Fire.
The contents include an extract from the latest cover story of Italy’s eco-insurrectionary periodical Terra Selvaggia, on ‘The Advance of Urbanisation’ and the cracks opening in the concrete. Annie Archet tells a life-story of evading identity, in Portrait of the Invisible Woman in Front of Her Mirror. Also: The Intensification of Independence in Wallmapu, John Severino’s poignant reflections on a project within an indigenous Mapuche community; The ‘Wild’ as Will and Representation, about commodified and alienated approaches in the urgent need for land reconnection; and Sean Dunohoe’s polemic against the Close Supervision Centres within the British prison system.
The zine also takes a retrospective look at some Global Flash-Points of insurgent activity in the months following their last volume. To Create & Maintain Their Wealth and ‘Sensuality, Magic & Anarchist Violence address gendered and speciesist domination through reviews of Silvia Federici, Arthur Evans and Jason Hribal.
The website includes a quote from Joanna Macy on the struggle that lies ahead for those who care about the future of life on this planet.
Says the activist and writer:“Yes, it looks bleak. But you are still alive now. You are alive with all the others, in this present moment. And because the truth is speaking in the work, it unlocks the heart. And there’s such a feeling and experience of adventure. It’s like a trumpet call to a great adventure. In all great adventures there comes a time when the little band of heroes feels totally outnumbered and bleak, like Frodo in Lord of the Rings or Pilgrim in Pilgrim’s Progress. You learn to say ‘It looks bleak. Big deal, it looks bleak.”
Frome (Sat 18 June), Glastonbury Festival (Thu 23 June), Yeovil, nr Tinkers Bubble (Sun 26 June), Horncastle (Thu 30 June).
Zig Zag, Glastonbury (Fri 1 July), Steward Community Woodland (Sun 3 July), Totnes Transition Town Film Night (Tue 5 July), Landmatters, Devon (Wed 6 July), Embercombe, Devon (Sat 9 July), Buddhafield Festival (Mon 11 July), Feed Bristol (Sat 23 July).
Stroud (Mon 1 August), The Big Green Gathering (Tue 2 August), The Northern Green Gathering (Thu 11 August), Off-Grid One Planet Community Festival (Fri 12 August), Wirksworth, Derbyshire (Sat 20 August), Belper (Tue 23 August).
People are invited to set up a screening in their local community, and use it as an opportunity to bring people together – think skill sharing, talks and workshops during the day, perhaps bring-a-dish dinner, followed by a showing of the film and a community-led discussion/circle gathering in the evening.
First-hand accounts of struggles in Kurdistan feature in a new book by Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson. Struggles for Autonomy in Kurdistan, published by Corporate Watch, tells of the efforts to create a new society which are taking place in Bakur and Rojava – the parts of Kurdistan within the borders of Turkey and Syria. The setting up of local assemblies and co-operatives, as well as radical women’s and ecological movements, are rapidly gathering momentum in Kurdistan. The book gives a simple introduction to democratic confederalism, the idea that has inspired many of those involved in these movements. The book also compiles accounts from Kurdish people who are oppressed by the state of Turkey and profiles some of the companies that are complicit in their repression. The interviews give suggestions of how people outside of Kurdistan can act in solidarity. Buy the book or download it for free at https://corporatewatch.org/publications/2016/new-book-struggles-autonomy-kurdistan
* * *
UK supporters of the ZAD protest camp at Notre-Dame-des-Landes near Nantes in France have now set up their own website at https://network23.org/ukzad/. They say: “We are an autonomous group helping organise UK solidarity with la Zad and to help resist if and when an eviction attempt is made. Initial plans are to arrange a trip to la Zad some time in the summer and to organise a rapid response for UK people to get to. Email ukzad[@]riseup.net or use the contact form on the site”.
* * *
A District Judge has refused to allow the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to appeal against the acquittal of eight anti-arms trade activists who were charged with blockading the DSEI arms fair in London last September. The CPS application to appeal was refused on the basis it was ‘frivolous’ and ‘misconceived’. On April 15 2016, eight activists were acquitted on the basis that they were seeking to prevent greater crimes such as torture and the mass indiscriminate killing of civilians in places such as Yemen, Kurdistan, Palestine and Bahrain. See Acorn 24 and update.
* * *
The key study that justifies the UK Government’s claim that fracking is a climate change ‘solution’ is based on serious scientific errors, says a new report in The Ecologist. Adds the article: “Not only has the Government failed to correct them, but it is now delaying the publication of a new official report that would reveal the truth – that fracking is considerably worse for the world’s climate than coal”.
* * *
“A major political summit, one of the biggest in the geopolitical calendar, and pretty much the only mainstream journalists who show up are inside the conference, bound by the omertà of Bilderberg… Decades of making it difficult for the press to report on the summit has led to a profound reluctance on the part of the media to bother trying”. So writes Charlie Skelton in his informative series of articles on the 2016 Bildberg Conference in Germany, published on The Guardian‘s website. And it wasn’t just the media who didn’t show. Where were the thousands of anti-capitalist protesters outside, furious at this secretive gathering of politicians, bankers, arms dealers and business people? Ah, yes, of course, Bilderberg is just a “conspiracy theory“…
* * *
An anarchist summer camp is being held in Austria this August. Organisers say its aim is to bring people together and strengthen cooperation within the left and anarchist movement across borders. They say: “Our goal is to build up a network for cooperation and action that lasts longer than the camp itself. You neither need to be part of a political scene nor know anything about theory to participate at the A-Camp. Everybody who identifies with emancipatory and anti-authoritarian ideas is invited”.
* * *
Acorn quote: “Things cannot go well in England, nor ever will, until all goods are held in common, and until there will be neither serfs nor gentlemen, and we shall be equal”. John Ball, Speech during Peasants Revolt, 1381
Huge crowds on the streets all over the world, at least one protester killed and many more injured by cops – May Day 2016 was as dramatic as any, as we show below.
In a way, although the people, the tear gas and the police batons were all very real, the day is a symbolic annual incarnation of a battle that goes on for 24 hours a day, 52 weeks of the year.
This is the battle between us and them, between the exploited and the exploiters, the peasants and the squires, the workers and the bosses, the have-nots and the have-too-muches.
For them, any “rights” enjoyed by workers and the population as a whole are only ever provisional sops to keep us in a state of semi-contented complacency.
They would rather do away with them altogether and are constantly working at increasing their control and destroying our collective resistance.
They use the money they have stolen from our communal wealth to manipulate and control the means of public information, smearing or ignoring our struggles and denying all possible alternatives to their system.
They use that same money to employ people to spy on us, infiltrate our movements, divert our energies, pollute our ideologies, divide and rule.
And, of course, they use it to hire an army of tooled-up thugs to physically attack us when we venture on to the streets in a spirit of rebellion.
What can we do to stand up to these brutal levels of force, particularly as the repression is smoothly covered up and even glorified by the mercenary custodians of the public’s “reality”?
All we can do is fight, and keep on fighting – on every level, in every way we can, on every single day of the year and, above all, on the symbolic First of May.
This is what our comrades were doing in Istanbul when police attacked them with water cannons and tear gas. A man in his 50s was murdered by the Turkish state’s thugs – run over by a water cannon vehicle – and there were more than 200 arrests.
That is also what people were doing in Paris, where the May Day march formed part of the current struggle against business-friendly “reforms” to the Loi Travail (see Acorn 23 and this update).
Repression in France, under cover of the “anti-terrorist” state of emergency, is reaching frightening heights (see, for instance, this video of the violent eviction of Nuit Debout in Paris on April 28 ) and the First of May procession was duly attacked by CRS riot police, using huge amounts of tear gas, who tried to split it into two.
The mixed crowd, numbering up to 70,000, stuck together and at one point started chanting en masse “Nous sommes tous des casseurs” (“We are all vandals”) in defiance of the media-manufactured bogeyman of a “violent” minority of protesters spoiling everything for the law-abiding majority.
Ferocious levels of police violence, during the day and in the evening at Nuit Debout, were such that the Street Medic organisation later described the day as a “bloodbath”.
Tens of thousands also took to the streets of Seoul. Similar “reforms” to those being introduced in France are being imposed all over the world by the capitalist slave-masters and South Korea also faces a labour reform bill, pushed by President Park Geun-Hye and her conservative Saenuri Party, which will make it easier for companies to lay off workers.
In Manila, there was a massive protest against Philippines president Benigno S. Aquino III and US imperialism. Left-wing demonstrators fought with police who were protecting the American embassy (see video)
There were clashes in Hong Kong when more than 5,000 people demonstrated to demand laws on standard working hours and a universal pension scheme.
It kicked off in Seattle, USA, (see this corporate news video), where anti-capitalist protesters bearing a large banner that read “We are ungovernable” staged an unauthorised march through the city centre.
Police fired “blast balls” at the protesters, who responded with flares, bricks and Molotov cocktails.
Elsewhere, anarchists threw molotov cocktails through the windows of the State Savings Bank of Ukraine (see video) and protesters set off fireworks in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei, Taiwan, as a symbolic gesture to “declare war” on the government.
There were protests and parades all across the world, including Berlin and Geneva (below). In Málaga (Spanish state) the march included an animal rights bloc, while in London a May Day Fuck Parade was held in the evening (see video), with the partying going on until 3am.
2. Blocking the railway in Marseilles: a first-hand report
April 28 saw a big day of strikes and protests against the neoliberal Loi Travail “reforms” in France (see Acorn 23 and this update). Feisty protests and brutal police violence broke out all over the country – see, for instance, these videos from Paris and Rennes and this photo report from Nantes – while Nuit Debout public assemblies were held in hundreds of towns in the evening. We received this first-hand report from the protests in Marseilles.
This was “a historic day” for protest in Marseilles, according to one long-time local anarchist activist, and I’m not going to argue with that.
I will certainly never forget the moment when hundreds of us on a breakaway demo refused to retreat in the face of insane volleys of tear gas and grenades fired by the fascistic “BAC” plain clothes police.
A great cheer rose up as it became obvious that the police were outnumbered and overwhelmed and we were going to get through.
Two BAC cops fled for cover as bottles and other objects rained down on them and the crowd advanced. As they got into their car, it was surrounded by triumphant protesters, cracking the glass in the windows, before the state thugs sped off to safety.
The crowd surged down the road and through a gate leading to the railway sidings and on to the main railway line close to Marseilles St Charles station. Planks, tyres and other objects were dragged on to the rails and set on fire. 400 protesters were on the line. The infrastructure was well and truly blocked.
You could tell something was going to happen right from the start. The official meet-up for the demo was at the Vieux Port, but here there were only the uninspiring supporters of the CGT trade union, far too close to the ruling Socialist Party to be any sort of threat to the system.
Up the road and round the corner, positioned to be at the head of the march, was the real heart of the protest. This was a mainly youthful section – including many secondary school students. They came from diverse backgrounds and notably included a noisy group of football supporters from OM, Olympique Marseille.
There were chants against the bosses, against the PS, about revolution, as the march set off, in stop-start fashion, along Cours Lieutaud.
At the end of the road, the well-established protest route turns right into Castellane, which is supposed to mark the end of proceedings.
But today, people had other ideas and the head of the protest turned left instead, then formed up ready to head off in an unauthorised direction.
Attempts to persuade the massed ranks of the CGT to join in were not too successful – they preferred a symbolic turn to the right, as ordered by their stewards.
But, thanks partly to a looping protest that led out of the march and back in again, a significant number of protesters were welcomed into the breakaway project and it set off up Boulevard Baille, where the police had set up a blockade.
The tear gas canisters started raining down before the front of the protest was even 100 metres from the cops. Plain clothes BAC cops lurked on the pavements ready to grab anyone trying to escape the gas.
“Tout Marseille déteste la police!” went up the cry from the crowd – a local variation of the “Tout le monde déteste la police!” (Everybody hates the police!”) which has rapidly become the catchphrase of this uprising.
People advanced and retreated, kicking and throwing the tear gas capsules back towards the police. Sound grenades and rubber bullets were also fired and a trade unionist suffered a nasty chest injury as the police pushed the protest down to Castellane and out on to Rue de Rome
On the positive side, a well-aimed bottle hit one of the BAC thugs right in the face.
Somehow, the breakaway group kept together and 1,000 protesters now moved together back towards the city centre, taking side streets to avoid police blockades and the constant hail of tear gas.
The taking of the railway was certainly a triumph – although some sort of mass exit strategy would have been useful to prevent the inevitable dribbling away of protesters though holes in the railside fences as the cops advanced up the line, and the violent arrests of those remaining.
More than 50 people were arrested, many of them school students, and a solidarity campaign was set up to support them.
It is worth noting that this was very much on the agenda of the Nuit Debout gathering that attracted several hundred people back at the Vieux Port that evening. While these gatherings inevitably draw in a mixed crowd, the overall tone here was inseparable from the tone of the protest.
3.Lies and bail conditions to keep anarchists off the streets
Trumped-up criminal charges and draconian bail conditions are being used by the British state as a weapon against dissidents.
This is the insidious reality behind the “justice” system, as exposed in a new Corporate Watch interview with anarchist activist Pete Simpson.
Pete was prosecuted and remanded in prison for alleged “violent disorder” and “assault of police officers” after an occupation of HSBC bank, as part of the 2015 Mayday commemoration in Cardiff, Wales.
Pete and fellow activist Josh Howe were found not guilty by a jury in Cardiff in January 2016 after it became clear that the police were telling a pack of lies and it was in fact the cops who had acted violently.
He has no doubts about the political motivation for the prosecution, which put him out of circulation for months.
“They had presented evidence that we were giving out South Wales Anarchists leaflets. They made many references to it. The black flags that people had brought to the protest were also part of the evidence. They held up the flags in court, six or seven bundled together. They also asked me what I personally understood by the term ‘Anarchism’.
“The prosecutor had claimed in court that the protest was hijacked by an ‘anti-police agenda’ and had insisted that ‘we can’t have mob violence’ in the streets of Britain”, recalled Pete. “He asked the jury rhetorically. ‘is it likely that the police would lie about violence being used on them?'”
The pigs have a global reputation for telling porkies, and with the not-guilty verdict, the jury’s answer to this last question was a resounding “yes”!
Pete described what really happened on the day: “Two of the cops that were there were grabbing people and I saw one cop throwing three punches in a row whilst holding a person by the shoulder, punching their kidneys. The same cop grabbed another guy and threw him to the ground without supporting his fall.
“A police officer had Josh’s neck under his arm and Josh was saying that he couldn’t breathe. There was another cop also putting his weight on Josh.
“I reached out towards Josh. The police officer turned round and elbowed me in the face, throwing me up against the wall and strangling me.
“Straight after that, the other officer came over and hit me with a ‘knee-strike’ in the part of the leg just above the knee. It’s apparently something they are trained to do to make someone fall to the ground, but they grabbed both of my shoulders and threw me to the ground anyway, head first. Then bent me in the middle somehow. My forehead hit the ground. My leg was suddenly really injured”.
After Pete and Josh’s arrest in May 2015 they were remanded for several days in Cardiff prison. The judge only agreed to release them on the condition that they move away from their homes in Cardiff, sign regularly at a police station, keep to a strict curfew and wear a tag.
As Corporate Watch say, these conditions can only be described as political, aimed at restricting Pete and his co-defendant’s ability to be involved in political activism.
Bail conditions (i.e. conditions you are forced to comply with in order for the court to release you from prison or police custody) are only supposed to be used to prevent further ‘offending’ and stop people from absconding.
However, the use of draconian bail conditions against Pete and Josh, and others like them, amount to a punishment by the courts against people who have not been convicted of any crime.
Warn Corporate Watch: “Bail conditions are increasingly being used to prevent people from being involved in social movements that threaten capitalism and the state, particularly people involved in direct action networks”.
Pete said: “The bail conditions and tag made it hugely difficult for me. I effectively didn’t have a summer last year. I couldn’t go to any summer gatherings, activist camps or travel very far at all. I wanted to be supporting stuff all the time, all the stuff that I would normally be doing to try to change the system and fight for freedom.
“I was basically denied a social, and active, normal, life. I often thought about people going out in an evening and sometimes it was really difficult just to hear about it. I could never imagine just how controlling the state can be when people get to challenge its links to big business like we did that day.”
In a startling victory for direct action, eight anti-militarists walked free from court on April 15 after being prosecuted for trying to disrupt September’s Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair at London’s ExCel Centre last September (see Acorn 23).
And they did not get off on a technicality – District Judge Angus Hamilton accepted the defendants’ argument that they had tried to prevent greater crimes, such as genocide and torture, from occurring by blocking a road to stop tanks and other armoured vehicles from arriving at the exhibition centre.
Reported The Independent: “Witnesses described the role of the arms trade in facilitating the repressive Bahrani regime, in Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign over Yemen, and with Turkey’s internal repression of its Kurdish population.
“The judge said the evidence of illegal weapons sales had been left unchallenged by the prosecution and that such sales would potentially break arms control laws.”
Said defendant Lisa Butler: “Of course, we were ecstatic with the result, but we feel that we should never have been on trial in the first place.
“At the beginning of the case, it was eight activists who were on trial, but by the end of the week, we had succeeded in bringing the corrupt activities of the arms trade to public attention. It felt as though we had successfully put Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, DSEI and the UK government on trial”.
Unfortunately, though, the court result does not mean that there is such a thing as “British justice” – as one of the defendants remarked, even a stopped watch is right twice a day.
Neither does it mean that arms dealers are generally now seen by our society to be the criminals they are. It is only if they infringe certain technical rules that they are considered to be in the wrong.
Profiting from the murder and maiming of other people is still perfectly legal and praiseworthy if it creates “jobs”, boosts “the economy” and keeps the blood-stained wheels of capitalism turning.
UPDATE: Just after this bulletin was published, it emerged that the British state intends to appeal against the non-guilty verdict and defend the arms trade. More information on this development can be found here.
5. Witch hunt: antisemitism smears are ideological warfare
A toxic new ideological weapon has been unleashed by the capitalist system against its opponents – the witch-hunt accusation of “antisemitism”.
This phenomenon has come to its head in the UK in recent weeks with fevered accusations of “antisemitism” within Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, which seems to be regarded as dangerously radical by those in high places in the UK and the USA.
Former London Mayor “Red Ken” Livingstone, suspended from the party, pointed out that this line of assault from Blairite right-wingers has been shaping up for a while now: “Frankly, there’s been an attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his associates as antisemitic from the moment he became leader”.
There has been a related attack on Malia Bouattia, the new president of the UK’s National Union of Students, on the grounds of her anti-Zionism.
On one level these “shifty antisemitism wars” revolve around the legitimacy of support for Palestine and opposition to the brutal apartheid policies of an Israeli state which has long been a close ally of the UK, the USA, France and other Western states.
The success of the international BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) has prompted a “very coordinated and well-financed campaign led by Israel and its supporters aiming to criminalise political activism against Israeli occupation”.
In February, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson told the Financial Times: “We have stepped up our efforts directly and indirectly, dealing with friends of Israel in a variety of countries in which we have the BDS movement, fighting it with legal instruments.”
These “efforts” have been particularly blatant in France, where the authorities regard any call for the boycott of Israeli goods as a form of “racial hatred” .
In the UK, too, there has been a state attack on the BDS movement, with a new set of rules that will make it harder for local councils and other public bodies including universities to make ethical procurement or investment decisions. Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove, has absurdly claimed that the BDS movement is committing “a crime worse than apartheid”.
The ideological distortion behind this attitude was well conveyed in a nasty attack on Bouattia published by The Guardian.
The author, Hannah Weisfeld, concedes that not all UK Jews support the Israeli state and that many criticise it.
But she insists: “Zionism, at its core, is the belief in the right of the state of Israel to exist. Whether Bouattia likes it or not, connection to Israel is a key part of Jewish identity for an overwhelming majority of Jews in 21st-century Britain”.
Challenging Bouattia’s very reasonable insistence that “for me to take issue with Zionist politics, is not me taking issue with being Jewish”, Weisfeld complains that “she shows a deep lack of understanding of Jewish identity”.
Essentially, Weisfeld is claiming here that Zionism and Jewishness are the same thing – to challenge Zionism is therefore to threaten all Jewish people.
With the same line surfacing all over the place in recent months (for instance, in California), we are clearly witnessing a deliberate campaign to redefine criticism of the Israeli state and its policies as “antisemitism” and, therefore, as totally unacceptable and even criminal.
On another level, however, the current “antisemitism” row is not confined to issues around Israel, Zionism or Jewishness, but is cover for a new ideological assault on all opposition to the capitalist system – “extremism” as our rulers like to call it.
A telling pointer to this came in Paris in April, when right-wing Zionists falsely claimed that a group of anti-capitalist protesters had “attacked a synagogue”.
It is important to appreciate that the aim of this lie was not to discredit the pro-Palestine movement, as one might expect from pro-Israel groups, but to smear the left-wing anti-capitalist movement as a whole, using the “antisemitism” smear as a means to this end.
The same abuse of “antisemitism” accusations can be seen in an article in the Mail on Sunday on May 1, headed “Number of hate crimes against Jews soars as report says anti-semitism is at the ‘core’ of far-Left beliefs”.
The Mail’s story blatantly and outrageously tries to smear all anti-capitalists as racists or even Nazis – a remarkable stance for a notoriously right-wing newspaper group, which famously trumpeted its support for fascism in the 1930s.
At one point, without providing any context or information as to who was involved, the article declares: “In one shocking case, a mob shouting ‘Kill the Jews’ stormed a synagogue in Stamford Hill, North London, smashing windows and attacking worshippers”.
The implication is that this “mob” was probably left-wing, echoing the absurd right-wing Zionist claims regarding anti-capitalist protesters in Paris.
This anti-left element is very much in evidence behind the attacks on Corbyn. Indeed, the undisguised hatred of Corbyn and his supporters expressed by the UK media, very much including The Guardian, is not only, or even primarily, based on his support for the Palestinian cause.
Instead it relates to other policies which, while they may not seem very radical to many Acorn readers, still lie outside the imposed “consensus” of the US-dominated neoliberal capitalism that was safely represented by Blairite “New Labour”.
Explains a useful investigation from the Electronic Intifada website: “Although Labour’s membership has grown since Corbyn’s victory, he has been under constant attack from right-leaning politicians within the party. In an attempt to weaken his position, some of his critics have manufactured a ‘crisis’ about alleged anti-Semitism”.
It is important to understand that these smears are coming from a far-right elite of which far-right Zionism constitutes just one thread.
Zionism is, in itself, not inherently right-wing. Its origins were largely on the left and, while any form of nationalism is incompatible with anarchism and other forms of internationalism, Zionism was born from a struggle against antisemitism and was theoretically no more unacceptable than the anti-imperialist nationalisms of Ireland, India or Algeria, putting aside the crucial issue of Palestinian land.
The far-right form of Zionism which dominates today is, however, closely allied to the imperialism of the USA, UK, France, NATO and the whole Western capitalist system.
It no more represents or defends the interests of Jewish people than the British, French or American ruling elites represent the people of those countries. Indeed, much of the story behind the fake “antisemitism” scares is to frighten the Jewish diaspora into the hands of right-wing Zionism, in the same way that the fear of “terrorism” is designed to frighten the public into the “protective” arms of the capitalist state.
In Acorn 20, we explored the strong links between Islamophobic fear-mongering, far-right Zionism and shadowy CIA-backed pro-NATO organisations and individuals.
Disallowing any such analysis has always been part of the ideological war conducted by this extreme-right ruling system against its opponents.
A particularly successful approach has been the “conspiracy theory” smear. This starts from the reality that racists with a hatred for Jewish people often hide behind the term “Zionism” in order to depict a poisonous fantasy-world of “Jewish conspiracy”.
This has been turned around to imply that anyone who suggests there is any kind of behind-the-scenes co-ordination within the various elements of the ruling system is a “conspiracy theorist” and therefore somehow associated with antisemitism.
Note that it is not even necessary to include any mention of Zionism within this analysis of power – the very fact of invoking any kind of “conspiracy” involving the governments of capitalist countries is deemed evidence of a crazed and dangerous mindset that could easily lead to antisemitism, fascism and so on.
This same line is echoed by everyone from “radicals” attacking the “dangers” of conspiracy theories within their own circles to the likes of Prime Minister David Cameron with his threat to clamp down on the “ludicrous conspiracy theories of the extremists”.
This fear of “conspiracy theories” and of contamination by association with right-wing or antisemitic ideas, can be traced back to the 1960s, when US intellectual Richard Hofstadter wrote an essay called The Paranoid Style in American Politics.
As Robin Ramsay has written (see Acorn 20): “For ‘serious’ people – academics, journalists, politicians – large areas of political inquiry have been contaminated ever since by an association with conspiracy theories. Hofstadter’s essay appeared just when questions were being asked about the assassination of JFK and his essay helped to shore up the ‘lone assassin’ verdict offered by the Warren Commission”.
In 1999, this approach was further bolstered by the publication of a book called Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From. The blurb states: “To anyone who has ever heard a friend or relative say, ‘Don’t believe what you read in the papers’, Conspiracy offers a spellbinding survey – and a wakeup call”.
The author of this book was none other than Daniel Pipes, a far-right US propagandist, recently described by writer Nafeez Ahmed as a “well-known anti-Muslim hate-monger”, who sits on the presidium of the ultra-Zionist Jerusalem Summit alongside British Islamophobe Baroness Cox.
Adds Ahmed: “The summit’s advisory board includes other leading notorious neoconservative ideologues like Rachel Ehrenfeld, Meyrav Wurmser (wife of David Wurmser, Middle East advisor to former vice-president Dick Cheney), and Dennis Prager, among others”.
The truth is that the engineered fear of “conspiracy theories” (conspiraphobia, perhaps?) is part of a deliberate political strategy to delegitimise all analysis of, and opposition to, the capitalist military-industrial complex. The current controversy has to be seen within that larger ideological context.
By using the spectre of “antisemitism” as a stick with which to beat opponents of the dominant system, far-right Zionists are showing that they are in no way acting in the interests of the Jewish people they claim to represent.
Instead, they are using their well-being as a pawn in a political chess game which serves nobody’s interests but those of the capitalist ruling elite with which they are closely allied.
For when anybody voicing any criticism of Israel, or indeed the global capitalist system, is branded “antisemitic”, it becomes impossible to identify the real antisemites, the racist Jew-haters who must be sniggering with delight at the smokescreen being put up around their vile prejudices by those purporting to combat them.
Manufactured “terrorism” charges against anarchists in Belgium are due to be considered by a court in Brussels on May 10 2016. A report on Rabble website explains that the Belgian state has lumped together 150 different attacks on targets such as police stations, courts, banks, companies profiting from the prison system, building sites, mobile phone masts and cars belonging to diplomats, Eurocrats and NATO officials. By inventing a single fake “terrorist group” behind all of this, the prosecutors have contrived to reclassify a library as a place of recruitment, discussions as clandestine meetings, leaflets and newspapers as urban guerrilla manuals, demos and rallies as terrorism, affinity ties and self-organization as “a structured terrorist group”.
* * *
“We cannot love your world. Your world is bad for us. We don’t like it. There are too many people. Too much noise. No peace. It smells bad”. These are the words of a woman of the Jarawa people, who have lived in peace off the coast of India for thousands of years but are now being treated as tourist attractions, or animals in a zoo, as the nightmare of industrial capitalist civilization engulfs them. Says a Jarawa man in a new documentary film: “We live really quietly in the forest, and we are happy. Here, there is everything we need. The trees are full of fruits, and the flowers are magnificent … We can find everything we need in the jungle.”
* * *
An in-depth analysis on the influence of anarchist, environmental and feminist thinking in Kurdistan has been published online by Corporate Watch, ahead of a new book called Kurdish Struggles for Autonomy, due out this month. Says the report: “The movements for democratic confederalism in Rojava and Bakur are a place where anti-capitalist, feminist, anti-authoritarian and anti-state ideas are flourishing. They have the capability to transform the reality of society for millions of people. These changes are being made by people at a grassroots level, who are inspired by the ideas of the revolution, not by politicians or government institutions”.
* * *
Two UK diary dates. Earth First! has announced that its 2016 summer gathering will be held between August 17 and 22 in Northamptonshire. Further info to be released later. And the 2016 London Anarchist Bookfair will be held on Saturday October 29.
* * *
Acorn quote: “It would be better to dump the whole stinking system and take the consequences”.
The temperature is rising in the massive and long-running struggle against a new airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes in France.
On Saturday February 6 a thousand people took part in a carnival-style protest in Rennes. Some city centre buildings were redecorated, some bank windows smashed and the demo was attacked by police using tear gas, rubber bullets and batons.
Now preparations are underway for big day of mobilisation on Saturday February 27 against the threatened new industrial capitalist infrastructure and in support of the ZAD protest camp.
An autonomous group of supporters in the UK are among those heading to the west of France to show their solidarity – see below.
On January 25 a judge approved an eviction order against some people on the ZAD site. This came into immediate effect for farmland and there was two months’ grace for their actual homes.
The hundreds of others who have been living on the land since 2007 to defend it from Vinci’s bulldozers could be evicted by force at any time.
The decision as to whether to try to destroy the ZAD is in the hands of the French state and it is not yet clear how and when they will act.
As we have previously reported, there is enormous opposition to the airport in Brittany and across France – a protest on January 9 this year saw 20,000 protesters with 450 tractors shut down the main motorway at Nantes.
More impetus has been given to the fight with the timely publication of a new mini-book, Défendre la zad, by the Collectif Mauvaise troupe, which features first-hand accounts of the struggle and calls for resistance [We have been informed, post-publication, that it can now be found online in English at https://constellations.boum.org/spip.php?article143].
It declares: “Just like battles of other times and other places, the ZAD and everything it represents provides us, here and now, with a precious glimmer of hope in this era of disenchantment. We have got to defend the ZAD!”
Prime minister Manuel Valls has spoken of a move against the ZAD in the autumn, while environment minister Ségolène Royal seemed to suggest on a France 5 TV interview on February 1 that the government was backing away from lighting the fuse to massive and angry resistance.
She said the subjects of the court order would not be “evicted by force” and that she didn’t want to “end up with a civil war”.
But, on February 4, Bruno Retailleau, right-wing pro-airport president of the Pays de la Loire region, upped the political ante.
He launched a high-profile “residents’ petition” demanding that the government clear the ZAD and make way for big business.
This anti-ZAD tirade, which could have been written by Britain’s very own Daily Mail, complains of “attacks on the forces of law and order, threats against journalists and scientists, the stoning of the judge in charge of the Possession Order, the looting of a goods lorry and extortion rackets against residents forced to open their car boots and hand over their shopping”!
The day of mobilisation on February 27 will call for a halt to all eviction threats and for the immediate and permanent axing of the much-hated airport project.
Says the ZAD website: “We invite all committees and supporters to very strongly mobilise from now for this date. We invite everyone from the region, from all corners of France, and beyond, to organise convoys and buses to reach this big mobilisation.”
UK supporters of the ZAD have formed an autonomous group helping mobilise people from the UK to go to the February 27 protests and also to organise a rapid response if and when the eviction attempt begins.
Say UKZAD: “Initial plans are to travel on Friday February 26 and return on Monday 29. If you would like to go we may be able to help with transport arrangements. Email email@example.com and say where you would like to leave from and return to. Also email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to know more about a UKZAD rapid response eviction resistance”.
As ZAD supporters prepare themselves from possible attack, they are inwardly strengthened by memories of the successful resistance to the previous eviction attempt in 2012 – which the authorities provocatively and unwisely gave the name of Operation Caesar, in the homelands of Asterix the Gaul.
As recalled in Défendre la zad, a public order specialist from the gendarmerie admitted to a journalist at the time: “It’s always possible to evict, even with a significant and difficult zone like this. You just have to put enough resources into it. But holding on to it is impossible”.
There is something of the commune brewing at the ZAD. Something of the Commune of 1871, when an unstoppable collective emotion took hold of the inhabitants of Paris who became, behind the barricades, the masters of their own everyday life and of their history, raising an immense feeling of revolutionary hope and bringing about uprisings in countless other towns and cities.
There is something of the Medieval communes who managed to drag themselves free of feudal power and defend the commons – the land, tools and resources whose use was shared.
Something, also, of the short-lived commune of Nantes in 1968, during which workers and students occupied the town hall, blockaded the region and organised supplies for the strikers from the landworkers.
Something which has now become both the means and the meaning of our struggle and which we have to continue to deepen.
Some 600 miles away from the ZAD at Nantes, in the French Alps, another battle is taking place against the relentless onslaught of industrial capitalism.
“No THT” is the name of a full-on campaign against a plan to wreck the beauty of the mountain valley of Haute-Durance with two very high voltage power lines – numerous blockades and acts of sabotage have been taking place in recent months.
The environmentally-disastrous project is being jointly run by RTE (Réseau de Transport d’Electricité), which is part of EDF, and the French state.
Explain the campaigners: “This is part of European plans to develop a wide-scale network to serve the capitalist electricity market. This network will allow an even greater fluidity in commodity exchanges, as recommended by the ideology of liberalism, which we don’t like at all”.
In a recent issue of their printed campaign bulletin, No THT examine the crucial issue of so-called “violence” forming part of anti-capitalist resistance.
They write: “The struggle against the very high voltage lines in Haute-Durance, Hautes-Alpes, has recently turned into an active and concrete form of opposition, with graffiti, blockades and sabotage. The question of violence has therefore come up.
“It’s a recurring issue for collective action: when legal and democratic means have proved inadequate, what type of action should we suggest, how should we organise to make our ideas heard and practically resist?
“Direct action, on whatever scale and however radical (from a slashed tyre on site machinery to the kidnapping of the boss, by way of occupations, blockades or a simple campaign of unauthorised fly-posting), always leads to a reaction from the state, which defends its interests and tries to maintain order.
“Repression is used to punish these illegal means of action, often under the pretext that they are violent. Any law-breaking amounts to a form of violence, they say, and the struggle should restrict itself to the ‘proper channels’.
“But clearly the whole existence of struggle and collective action depends on going beyond this level of action. So we have to get together to defend words and actions which, far from sticking to the definition created by the state, define themselves as ways of resisting together.
“You don’t discuss the morality of a strike with your boss and we can’t persuade RTE of the legitimacy of blocking its sites. We are presenting them, as far as we are capable, with a factual reality that isn’t only aimed at those we are fighting but also at the rest of society, so we can get our message across as widely and loudly as possible”.
The question of “violence” has also recently been addressed in an excellent Corporate Watch report on the disappointing D12 (December 12) protests at COP21 in Paris.
The UK-based activists say: “D12 was organised on the basis of an ‘action consensus‘ that committed participants to ‘only use non-violent and pacifist methods and tactics to show our determination, but won’t contribute to escalation’.
“At various action briefings and trainings in Paris, participants were told that ‘breaking police lines’ and ‘property damage’ were against this consensus, amounting to a ban on D12 participants defending themselves from the police. This consensus was adhered to by some of the less reformist groups, including Reclaim the Power from the UK.
“The French police force have a long and ignoble history of violence. Last year, police killed eco-activist Remi Fraisse at the ‘Zone a Defendre’ in Testet in South-West France. Remi was only one of the countless people who have been killed or brutalised by French cops over the years.
“French social movements have responded by defending themselves against police violence, often rioting on the streets of French cities in response to police murders.
“To ask people to accept a consensus that would leave D12 participants defenceless against police violence discounted this culture of resistance and self defence. It is likely to have alienated people from the very social movements in Europe that the anti COP21 mobilisation should have been reaching out to.
“Even the more dogmatic adherents to non-violence usually accept that damage to property is not ‘violence’. Why then was damage to property deemed against the ‘action consensus’?
“If we are to truly deal with the causes of climate change and challenge capitalism, then the capitalist infrastructure which is destroying the planet will have to be put out of action”.
This article, written by Gianfranco Sanguinetti two days after November 13’s Paris terror attacks, has been translated from French by The Acorn, with the kind co-operation of the author.
“The French public should be aware that we are heading towards some major terrorist attacks. The political authorities should let the French people know that we are going to see acts of mass terror”.
General Vincent Desportes, 29.10.2015. 
We need some ordered thinking if we are to prevent all the current emotion, propaganda and hysteria from sidetracking any balanced analysis of what happened the day before yesterday (13.11.15).
What we were up against in Paris was a Morale Operation. In the art of unorthodox warfare, Morale Operations are those which aim to use shock, confusion and deception in order to sow distrust, terror and disarray within the ranks of the enemy or of a hesitant and uncertain ally. They are a type of psychological warfare, as set out and put into practice in 1942 by Colonel William J. Donovan of the American OSS. 
The French military high command knew very well who was hiding behind Daesh (ISIS) when General Vincent Desportes openly declared as early as December 17 2014, just before the Charlie Hebdo operation, during a public-session debate at the Senate in front of the Commission of Foreign Affairs, Defence and Armed Forces: “Who is the Dr Frankenstein who created this monster [Daesh]? Let’s make this quite clear, because it has repercussions: it’s the USA. Out of short-term interest, other actors – some of whom paint themselves as friends of the West – have, out of subservience or by their own will, contributed to its construction and its reinforcement. But those primarily responsible are the United States”. 
When Russian forces entered the game against ISIS in Syria, they completely disrupted US and Israeli plans involving their expensive toy, ISIS: France had already taken the initiative a few days before Putin, by independently bombing ISIS in Iraq and (twice) in Syria.
For the real masters of ISIS this was defiance: they had to call France to order and reunite the Western forces under their command.
Through a multi-pronged military commando action in the middle of Paris, against carefully chosen symbolic targets, France’s political leaders were thus given a stark warning on November 13.
Nowhere in the world does there exist a single waragainst terrorism, because all states make use of it: terrorism is not an enemy, but simply a particular way of waging war.
As far back as 2008, Lieutenant colonel Jean-Pierre Steinhofer was writing in la Revue Défense Nationale: “The notion of a ‘global war against terrorism’ is a semantic, strategic, military and judicial perversion which, by conflating ‘enemy’ with ‘enemy’s method of fighting’, has led Western states into an intellectual dead-end which has muddled their thinking in numerous spheres and stranded them in some absurd situations”. 
France’s vague desire to act independently, having seemly forgotten that it is now irrevocably integrated into NATO, along with the scattering of its armed forces around too many theatres, from Africa to the Middle East, the wavering and hesitancy of its government, political tangles and delirious media conditioning are all condemning its military action to failure and at the same time exposing France to all kinds of retaliation. As we have just seen in Paris.
French political leaders are now in the uncomfortable position of pretending not to know where the blow came from, preferring as usual to lie to the population and come across as witless fools rather than to instead risk incurring the wrath of their treacherous allies. The population is under control thanks to the state of emergency. The Germans and other NATO allies have been warned by means of the same blow.
The masquerade ball, the shadow theatre, the fool’s game, the showmanship, the dramatics and the “mainstream” narrative are all part of what the above-quoted Lieutenant colonel called the “intellectual dead-end which has muddled their thinking in numerous spheres and stranded them in some absurd situations”.
In the meantime, populations are getting used to the massacres served up to them. They will have to learn through bloodshed that it’s not only those who direct and execute terrorism who are complicit with it, but also all those who believe the official versions.
Without them, terrorism becomes a blunt weapon which can even be very dangerous for those deploying it. 
We will recall that modern false flag terrorism was first tried out, for the 15 years from 1969, by the secret services in Italy and on the flesh of Italians – a fact which is today universally accepted and proven by historians and by court rulings. When I denounced it at the time, I wrote that:
“Italian terrorism is the last enigma of the society of the spectacle… It is therefore necessary and sufficient to resolve this enigma in order to put an end not only to terrorism, but also to the Italian State… And whatever people might say about that today, in ten or twenty years’ time, or before then, when everything has become clear for everyone, it is what I wrote about terrorism that will be remembered and not all the rivers of ink currently being spilled on this subject by the professional liars and the foolish”. 
 Under the presidency of Jean-Pierre Raffarin, the debates saw the Commission question General Henri Bentégeat (2S), former chief of staff of the armed forces ; Lieutenant General Didier Castres, second in command to chief of staff Operations; Monsieur Hubert Védrine, former Minister of Foreign Affairs; Major General (rtd) Vincent Desportes, visiting professor at Sciences Po, Paris, and Monsieur Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister of Defence. We can therefore conclude that not only the military staff but also the political leaders were all aware of this. Cf. : http://www.senat.fr/compte-rendu-commissions/20141215/etr.html.
 J.P. Steinhofer, “L’Ennemi innomé”. In Revue Défense Nationale, n°712.
 In a declassified US military document dated 4 December 1942, entitled “The Use of Terror Propaganda”, we read: “Terror propaganda, while immensely successful under proper conditions, may well be used imprudently to increase the resolution and determination of the enemy”. (National Archives, declassified by NARA).
 Gianfranco Sanguinetti, Del Terrorismo e dello Stato, Milan, 1979, 1980. Translated into French as Du Terrorisme et de l’Etat, Paris et Grenoble, 1980, 1981 and into English as On Terrorism and the State by Left Bank Books in 1983. A new translation by Bill Brown was published by Colossal Books in 2014.
According to its own website, DPTRE (the Defence Procurement, Research, Technology and Exportability exhibition) is the “UK’s Premier Defence Procurement Event” and is now being hosted annually at Cardiff Motorpoint Arena.
Their first time hosting the arms fair in Cardiff was in October 2014, with exhibitors including BAE Systems, the world’s third largest arms producer with a very special relationship with the UK government and the Saudi dictatorship.
Say campaigners: “BAE also supplies Israel with the tools to wage war on the Palestinians and after the horrors seen perpetrated by Israel, from the bombing of a UN school to the killing of children playing on a beach, there is no doubt that BAE systems is complicit in these crime through its arming of the Israeli state.
“BAE is also one of many companies at DPTRE which supplies weapons to Turkey. In 2015, people in towns across Turkey’s Kurdish region have barricaded their city centres and declared autonomy from the state. The Turkish army has responded by attacking residential areas with tanks, combat helicopters and mortars, killing hundreds of people”.
There has been active opposition to DPRTE since 2013. The arms fair had previously been hosted at the UWE campus in Bristol, but was subsequently driven out, hence the move to Cardiff. The protests involved a variety of actions including blockading the UWE north entrance causing queues trailing back along the A4174.
After the arms fair was driven out of Bristol, South Wales Anarchists, Stop NATO Cymru and others resolved to show the arms dealers that there is no welcome for them in Wales either.
Food Not Bombs Cardiff had a presence, people confronted the Arms Dealers and tried to get inside and three arms dealers were covered in red paint as they tried to enter. Those arrested for this action had their charges dropped when it came to trial due to insufficient evidence.
Activists say: “We urge all that can to come to Cardiff on the 16th of March 2016 to take action against this Arms Fair and those taking part in it. When the rich make war, it’s the poor that die and we won’t stand for business people to profit from racist death, displacement and torture”.
The future of fracking in the UK is still very much in the balance, with contradictory signs of whether or not opposition is succeeding.
One excellent piece of news came on February 5, when IGas announced it will not be drilling for coal bed methane at Upton near Chester, where a protest camp was evicted last month.
The company said the site at Dutton’s Lane and another at Salters Lane, Mickle Trafford, did not meet its criteria for commercial coal bed methane development.
The news prompted the local MP to call for IGas to cough up towards the cost of the pointless £200,000 eviction, which involved 175 police from four forces and during which nine people were arrested.
Anti-fracking morale has also been boosted by some interesting items of overseas news. Canadian authorities shut down a Repsol Oil & Gas fracking operation in Alberta, after a magnitude 4.8 earthquake hit the area.
News of fracking’s many disastrous side-effects can only serve to deepen global opposition to the ecocidal industry.
There was also a significant victory in Australia, where frackers AGL have walked away from a gas project in New South Wales.
Commented business media outlet Australian Financial Review: “For once we are in total agreement with Lock the Gate and other tribes of resistance that have lined up against coal seam gas projects up and down the east coast of Australia.
However, back in the UK, Cuadrilla has not walked away from Lancashire County Council’s rejection of its drilling proposals and a public inquiry, held at Blackpool FC football stadium, started, amidst protests, on Tuesday February 9.
And another worrying sign has been the start of test activity at Horse Hill near Horley in Surrey. There it seems to be “business as usual” not only for the frackapitalists but also for their state-funded bouncers – Surrey Police have even been threatening to arrest activists using the compromise tactic of “slow walking” to hold up lorries entering the site.
Frack Free Surrey are pointing out that if the Horse Hill testing is successful, there is likely to be a spate of new test wells across the Weald of Surrey and Sussex.
In an interview in Shale Gas International Magazine, Chris Hughes, Commercial Director at NuTech, a consultancy which supports the oil industry, said: “The next stage with Horse Hill and other prospective fields in the UK shale play basins… will require the drilling of new wells in order to get maximum information back…
“The proving of the play, and the process of getting it into production, will require the drilling of more boreholes, moving further away from where we currently are in the licence…
“If we moved a mile away from the Horse Hill site and drilled another well, would the rock look exactly the same as we saw in Horse Hill or is it thinner or thicker in terms of the actual target plays? Is it tighter? Is it less hydrocarbon-rich?”
It is clear that the powerful fracking industry still represents nothing less than an existential threat to the whole of the English countryside and the health and well-being of generations to come. It must be stopped!
The fate of the human race and our place on the planet earth depend on the actions we take during the first half of this century. If we continue to follow orders and do what the Master Race demands of us, we will go extinct.
But we trudge along anyways – too stupefied by TV, the internet, religion, the crap crammed into our minds during our incarceration in schools – too demoralized and deadened by our bullshit jobs to imagine that anything could be different. So, we stumble onwards, towards extinction. What the fuck is wrong with us?
While preparations were underway for two military invasions and perpetual warfare in Central Asia, the White House’s thug-in-chief, Dick Cheney, demanded that no one had the right to tell Americans there was anything wrong with “the way we live.” And millions of Americans lined up behind him.
Americans were willing to send soldiers to their deaths for no reason anyone could explain, after being traumatized by the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center incident. The rationalization that eventually stuck was that we were fighting “them” over there, so we wouldn’t have to fight “them“ here.
Thus, the first major wars fought in the 21st century re-introduced human sacrifice to western civilization. Only now we sacrifice lives to corporate profits, while these same corporations are actively destroying our planet. This isn’t just wrong, it’s insane.
In the hysteria of the post-9/11 era, in order to protect “the way we live,” interference with corporate activity has become legally defined as terrorism. So, our soldiers are sent off to die in meaningless, horribly bloody conflicts in order to generate profits for military contractors and oil companies. And if we complain, the highly militarized police forces are called out to crush our acts of resistance – no matter how lame.
This is Ultramodernism – the vision of the future as projected in Cold War art and literature, the era when the architects of today’s political machinations grew up. This is the vision of the world the Master Race is forcing on us through highly militarized police and a court system more concerned with stock values than human needs. Their plans for our future seems to resemble an amalgamation of Soylent Green and Nazi Germany.
In order to force this vision of a never-ending, never-changing world of shopping malls and servile employment upon us, the corporate elite, their banking overlords, and their governmental guard-dogs must explain away things like the worst oil spill in u.s. history, or the imposition of corporate edicts above local laws and regulations, or the criminalization of dissent. We cannot strive for a more meaningful existence than the one they have prepared for us. It won’t be tolerated. We must live the way they want us to believe people have always lived, and will always live.
Let us prepare ourselves to turn our backs on this civilization of mass destruction and make something magical, something incredibly beautiful and nurturing. If we don’t, the human race will be gone, and we’ll have lost everything. The next couple of decades will determine our collective fate, for all time.
Cardiff Anarchist Bookfair is being staged in the Welsh city on Saturday February 20 from 10am until late. The event at the Cathays Community Centre, 36-38 Cathays Terrace, Cardiff CF24 4HX, features workshops, stalls, music, food and a creche – the full programme can be found here.
* * *
Social injustice in the UK has worsened further with the scrapping of all remaining student grants, which are designed to help poorer young people get an education. The change, which was sneaked through by the Conservative government without even a proper vote in parliament, means the less well-off will now have to take out even more loans and end up paying more than the children of the wealthy. It’s the rich and the banks who profit, as ever.
* * *
“What I have learnt is this: it is always worth fighting. And I will use all the passion and anger that those protests sparked, to light a bonfire for all time. Because, in the end, it is ourselves that we are fighting for. Ourselves, and our children.” These are the inspiring words from Nicola Chester, one of these who fought against the Newbury bypass, as she reflects on the 20th anniversary of the massive anti-road battle on her blog.
* * *
The Earth First! Winter Moot will be staged in the west of England from the evening of Friday February 19 to Sunday February 21 2016. Earth First! is a banner for independent groups who share a common need to protect our ecological systems, believing in non-hierarchical direct action to stop and reverse the forces responsible for the destruction of the earth and its inhabitants. Those taking their first steps into ecological campaigning are warmly welcomed. There will be debates, discussions on campaign planning, updates, support and solidarity, tactics, strategies, community building, sustainable activism and networking including groups campaigning against fracking, incineration, new roads and genetic engineering. The Moot is at the Centre for Science and Art, 13 Lansdown, Stroud, Gloucestershire GL5 1BB, 5 minutes from Stroud station. Vegan meals and accommodation are provided. Cost is £25/30.
* * *
Yet another undercover police spy in left-wing activist circles has been exposed by the Undercover Research Group. A man known as “Carlo Neri“ who was active in the Socialist Party and anti-fascist activities between 2001 and 2006, was in reality a cop, mostly likely deployed by the Special Demonstration Squad. Like many others, he had relationships with a number of female activists. Unfortunately, what we know so far is probably the tip of the iceberg. As well as other police spies, there is undoubtedly high-level penetration of anti-capitalist networks by intelligence services. And then, of course, there are the new armies being deployed in cyberwarfare against anyone identified as a threat to the global domination of the industrial capitalist system…
* * *
A shocking video has emerged of police assaults on activists during a Mayday protest at a bank in Cardiff last year. As ever, the lying cops claimed it was the protesters who were “violent” and two young people went through months of pre-trial ordeal, including imprisonment and house arrest, before the court declared them innocent.
* * *
Just after the last Acorn came out, we published a dramatic account of how a Bristol anarchist saw off a dodgy approach by plain clothes “anti-terrorist” police at Stansted Airport. If you haven’t read it yet, it can be found on our Acorn Resources page.
* * *
Good news from Malaysia. After over two years of struggle and resistance, indigenous groups in Sarawak have celebrated a major victory in their campaign to stop construction of the controversial Hydro Dam. Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem stated announced the project has been put “on hold” until further notice, conceding that mass opposition to the dam by local people had forced his hand.
* * *
Here are three video recommendations. The natural cycle of life and death, in which individual vanity is but a passing illusion, is beautifully presented in this short animation by Saskia Kretzschmann. This publicity documentary showing off the kind of “invisible” special effects now commonly used by Hollywood is a good lesson in why you should never believe in the reality of anything presented to your eyes via a screen! And this seven-minute video talk by US college professor Luis Almeida entitled “Breaking Free from Technology”, looks at the disturbing side-effects of compulsive computer use.
* * *
“The World Health Organisation has issued a stark new warning about deadly levels of pollution in many of the world’s biggest cities, claiming poor air quality is killing millions and threatening to overwhelm health services across the globe,” reports The Guardian. Genetically modified babies and consumer eugenics are on the way, as industrial big business tries to take control of the life process itself. Psychopathic pharma-capitalist experiments are leaving a trail of people dead or physically ruined in their perverted quest for profit at the expense of all else. All this, along with the opening of the world’s first robot-run farm and the “gene editing” of our food, presents us with an industrialist dream of the future that can only be considered a nightmare by anyone not infected with the insanity of these times. But, obviously, there is absolutely no need to consider ending humanity’s disastrous industrial experiment. “There is no alternative”, they always tell us. The show must go on, until there’s nobody left alive to watch it.
* * *
Acorn quote:“A people living on the land enjoys a certain independence that is unknown to urban populations. Access to food is direct. People enjoy a certain relationship to nature and its rhythms, which are also the rhythms of their own lives. This relationship is included within a culture shared by those living in the same area. This collective culture is a living entity, as real and complex as the ‘personality’ of an individual”.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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”.
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”.
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.
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”.
3.Islamophobia: the not-so-secret agenda of Baroness Cox
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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).
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 Lobstermagazine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
* * *
“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.
* * *
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.
* * *
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”.
* * *
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
* * *
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”.
* * *
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.
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
1. Ethnic cleansing – bloody new chapter in Turkey’s war on Kurds
“Ethnic cleansing is being committed against our people. What is being done here is a massacre. The Turkish state is attacking civilians with heavy arms as if it was confronting the military force of another state.”
This is the warning from Ferhat Encü, a deputy from the People’s Democratic Party in Turkey, in response to the current horrific escalation of the Turkish state’s war on the Kurdish people and its desire for freedom.
The latest assault on the Kurds is being reported in mainstream media as involving the slaughter of more than a hundred people – and the real figure is likely to be a lot worse.
A full-frontal assault has been launched on the Kurdish populations within Turkey’s borders, aimed at stamping out the latest uprising which has seen people in many Kurdish cities declare their autonomy from the state and arm themselves to defend their neighbourhoods against the police and army.
New curfews have been announced in the cities of Cizîr (Cizre in Turkish), Nusaybin and Silopi in the last week and civilians have been killed in all three of these cities.
Amed is situated within the borders of Turkey and its residents are locked in a decades-long struggle for self determination.
In November, people erected barricades in the neighbourhood of Sur, part of Amed’s historic old town, to protect their autonomy and prevent the Turkish police and army from entering.
Since then six consecutive curfews have been imposed in the city and police and military have attacked densely populated residential neighbourhoods with heavy weaponry.
Reports Corporate Watch: “On Monday 14 December, Şiyar Salman and Şerdıl Cengiz were killed by the police in Sur. Earlier that day a strike had been called in Amed in solidarity with the people of Sur and a mass march aimed at reaching the besieged neighbourhood had been attacked with water cannons and tear gas by the police.
“A journalist from the JINHA women’s news agency was detained during the demonstration. In retaliation, the armed wing of the PKK (the Kurdistan Worker’s Party, which previously advocated an independent Kurdish state and now supports democratic autonomy in Kurdistan) attacked a military convoy in Amed district, killing six Special Operations officers and destroying armoured vehicles. On 16 December state forces shelled houses in Sur, wounding seven people.
“Kurdish Media has reported that Turkish police have used Ford vehicles to blockade the neighbourhoods where the killings took place (for more info on Ford’s dealings with the Turkish police click here).”
The courage shown by the Kurds in their resistance to the corporate-backed power of the Turkish state is inspiring, as is their optimistic spirit of defiance.
Insists Encü: “It will be our people that triumphs… Turkish state gangs will be expelled from Silopi, Cizre and all Kurdistan territory in the same way ISIS has been pushed out of Kobanê!”
An important article was jointly published last week by the US website Crimethinc and the French site Lundimatin.
Available in both French and English, it looks at the effect of 9/11 on anti-capitalist dissidents across the Atlantic 14 years ago and compares this with what is happening, and may happen, in France today.
A key section relates to the psychological impact of the Twin Towers attacks, and the ensuing hysteria, on the activist scene.
It reminds us that the events of September 11 took place at a moment when the USA, and indeed Europe, was facing a huge and apparently unstoppable wave of protest: “2001 was a peak in the anti-globalization movement. It was right after Seattle and in July there was Genoa”.
Coincidentally, the same atmosphere of rebellion had been growing in France before the Paris attacks, as we pointed out in Acorn 18.
The effect of 9/11 on the US protest movement was disastrous: “Immediately after the attacks of September 11, social movements of all kinds froze up around the United States. Radicals were afraid that the authorities would take advantage of the opportunity to mop them up.
“Participants in the so-called anti-globalization movement, accustomed to seeing themselves portrayed on television as the primary opponents of the status quo, weren’t prepared to be pushed out of the headlines by a bigger, badder enemy. Momentum gave way to demoralization and malaise”.
The 9/11 effect was undoubtedly also felt in the UK at the time. Initially, the critical attitude to America often implicit in the anti-globalisation movement suddenly came across as inappropriate in a new “reality” in which the USA played victim. But the overall energy did not so much drop as re-channel itself into an anti-war movement opposing the militarist face of the US-led capitalist system.
However, the UK did have its own terrorist outrage and, coincidentally, this also occurred at an inconvenient time for the anti-capitalist movement.
It is a matter of some notoriety that when news of the 7/7 bombings spread around the Stirling campsite for the anti-G8 mobilisation in Scotland in 2005, a certain clique of “activists” called for the protests to be abandoned in respect for the victims.
This was vigorously opposed by many there, particularly the Irish contingent and other internationals, but was nevertheless somehow imposed.
In retrospect, the fact that police spy Mark Kennedy/Stone was among the organisers explains a lot about this manoeuvre. But what about all the others who went along with him?
Their spineless compliance with the state’s line on “terrorism” revealed a deep weakness at the core of the anti-capitalist movement – some activists just weren’t essentially opposed to the ruling system and could still be psychologically manipulated into conformity in the event of an “emergency”.
It is important to realise that the system will always use the shock of terrorism as a psychological weapon with which to bludgeon the population into obedience.
We can see how this worked with regards to the COP21 in Paris. Yes, there were very real and physical repressive measures taken against anti-COP activists which hindered the mobilisation (see Acorn 18), but these do not necessarily account for all the no-shows, all the lowered levels of energy.
There is a worrying naivety amongst even supposedly-sussed activists with regard to the industrial capitalist system and its agenda, which too easily allows a fiery message of resistance to be reduced to a tepid request for reform.
What can you say about a “radical” UK environmental activist overheard reporting enthusiastically that there was apparently “good news” from the COP21 summit? What might that be? That the rulers of the industrial world and their corporate sponsors were going to dismantle capitalism, perhaps?
How can you protest against the whole COP21 charade and imagine that the phoney “solution” will even involve the slightest hint of a halt to airport-building, road-building and fracking, let alone the salvation of the planet?
The industrial-military-financial complex no more deserves our support in its staging of fake greenwashing summits than it does in its fake “war on terrorism”.
How many times are we going to fall for its tricks and lies?
The content of the Crimethinc/Lundimatin conversation ties in very nicely with the subject of a recent anarchist blogpost, which asks what the activist reaction in the UK would be to a “state of emergency” like that imposed in France.
It would perhaps be useful if UK dissidents gave this question some thought ahead of any such occurrence and resolved not to lose sight of the following key points:
* Our opposition to the industrial capitalist system is deep and long-term. It is not going to be modified by any particular events, no matter how shocking.
* The victims of terrorist attacks are always human beings – not nations, states or the politicians who claim to represent them. The UK state will not be a victim of any terrorist attack but will hold full responsibility by virtue of its policies and actions.
* The state may have the short-term physical power to round up opponents, ban protests, close down websites and so on, but it does not have the long-term ability to hold down the whole population against its will. The first barrier to resistance is always psychological and we will not allow ourselves to be intimidated into silence, or into a dilution of our anti-capitalist convictions, by a climate of fear created by the authorities. Instead, any attempt to crush our movements will only deepen our resolve and fuel our revolt.
“Resilience” is a word often used by the state as it encourages people to rally round its flag, but it is maybe one that should be appropriated by its opponents.
We need resilience in the face of the constant physical repression doled out by the system, resilience in the face of its lies and propaganda and, today more than ever, resilience in the face of the psychological bludgeon of “anti-terrorism” with which it would beat us into silence and submission.
NOTE 1: Since the last issue of The Acorn, repression in post-shock France has spiralled and we have been translating into English some key accounts, which can be found on our Resources page. There is this account of a brutal and apparently premeditated police attack on a protest in Nantes, this report of Muslim homes being raided by sneering, racist police and this account of martial law in France, together with a defiant statement in response.
NOTE 2: There seems to be a growing scepticism (in the alternative media at least) about the bogeyman of “terrorism” and its use to justify US/NATO imperialism and repression. For instance, this interesting article by Vanessa Beeley on the recent massacre of Shiite Muslims by Nigerian troops draws poses some broader parapolitical questions, asking: “Grey Wolves, FSA, ISIS, DAESH, Al Qaeda, Khorasan, AQAP, Jabhat al Nusra and Boko Haram, are they all nothing more than trade names, successfully managed brand images, logos and IDs all emanating from the US/NATO, Israel and Gulf State holders of the patent on terror and their associated marketing agents and concept creators?” This report on 21st Century Wire website joins the dots between various “gangs and counter gangs” using similar techniques in different parts of the world. Additionally, Umberto Eco’s latest novel, Numero Zero, also involves the non-fictional story of NATO false flag terrorism in Europe and includes a useful synopsis of the must-see BBC documentary on Operation Gladio.
3. Exposed: fake “left-wingers” who hate the alternative media
With the ever-more apparent domination of mainstream media by the corporate elite, the existence of an alternative media is a source of hope and inspiration for many.
You would imagine that anybody terming themselves “left-wing” would welcome its existence with open arms, even if obviously not embracing every single site that falls under that wide description.
However, this does not seem to be the case for a certain James Bloodworth, a “left-wing” journalist and the former editor of the political blog Left Foot Forward.
According to Bloodworth , the alternative media are in fact often serving “sinister agendas”.
It is clear from the article he wrote on the subject on the Little Atoms website, that what Bloodworth hates most is any sort of criticism of the USA.
He complains that, in the “pernicious” reporting of non-corporate media, “should America or a government allied to America commit an egregious violation of human rights, that crime will be blown out of all proportion”.
And the same specific sensitivity lay behind his attack on Jeremy Corbyn in the International Business Times earlier this year, when he wrote: “The truth is that, however much a Corbyn-led Labour party might claim to be standing up for the most vulnerable, it will always and everywhere be willing to sacrifice the very people it ought to stick up for – the world’s democrats, secularists, Jews, gays and women – on the ideological alter [sic] of anti-Americanism.”
An in-depth article by Nafeez Ahmed on the Media Reform website questions the perplexing political line taken by the supposedly left-wing Bloodworth.
Ahmed points out that Bloodworth can hardly term himself a “progressive” as a search of the archives shows him routinely promoting the wonders of drone strikes and military intervention in Pakistan and Afghanistan; calling for more war in Iraq; and in Syria and endorsing fracking regardless of its environmental consequences.
And he points out Bloodworth’s links to the late Professor Norman Geras, whose pseudo-left 2006 Euston Manifesto declared, in Ahmed’s words, that the “left” should “define itself in opposition to ‘anti-imperialism’ and criticisms of neoconservative warmongers in the US”.
We are left, then, with the suspicion that there is a network of journalists and academics actively working to steer the “Left” away from any criticism of the USA and the capitalist system it dominates.
If we want to know what an anti-anti-imperialist “Left” might lead to, we need only look at the “Antideutsch” movement in Germany, with its support for Israeli Apartheid and American imperialism.
And if we are wondering who might be behind such ideological manipulation, we might find a historical clue in seeing who was behind the creation of the Index on Censorship and many other political and “cultural” initiatives – a Cold War organisation called Congress for Cultural Freedom which has long been revealed to have been a front for the CIA.
“At its height, the CCF had offices in thirty-five countries, employed dozens of personnel, published over twenty prestige magazines, held art exhibitions, owned a news and features service, organized high-profile international conferences, and rewarded musicians and artists with prizes and public performances”, records Wikipedia.
Any analysis which involves anything smacking of “conspiracy” is almost taboo in certain radical circles, for some reason. But scornfully muttering the words “conspiracy theory” does not magically stop real conspiracies from existing…
It is a fact that the US government has spent millions of dollars on trying to promote pro-American viewpoints around the world, not least in a supposedly “left-wing” context – and we should be wary of being swayed by this sophisticated ideological propaganda.
Ten years ago, The Porkbolter (a now-defunct local anarchist newsletter in Worthing, West Sussex) published a critical report on the journalist Andrew Mueller, which can still be read online.
The similarities with Bloodworth are remarkable. Here is another supposedly funky “left-wing” journalist whose actual output features sneering attacks on various enemies of the capitalist system, from Israeli nuclear whistle-blower Mordechai Vanunu to UK leftist politician George Galloway.
Like Bloodworth, Mueller is especially protective of the reputation of the USA, complaining for instance about “puerile anti-American bleating” at an anti-war meeting.
Coincidentally, his work also includes a gushing article endorsing the activities of a rather dodgy Albanian political movement called Mjaft!, which received support and funding from the UK and US governments.
Also coincidentally, the very same Andrew Mueller is today among the contributors to Little Atoms, the state-funded website on which Bloodworth launched his scathing attack on the perniciously anti-American alternative media.
The links between the spread of capitalist “progress” and the destruction of minority languages and culture are explored in a newly-translated article from an anarchist review in France.
“We talk to the horse in Breton and to the tractor in French” explains one small farmer in Brittany, illuminating the exposing the full-spectrum domination of a system that can tolerate no other way of being, of thinking, of speaking, than its own.
The piece was originally published in a magazine jointly published by Offensive – trimestriel d’offensive libertaire et sociale and Courant alternatif – mensuel anarchiste-communiste.
The author, Gildas, explains how the French language conquered the countryside of Brittany as part of the triumph of industrial and consumer society: “In the end the Breton-speakers walked away from a language which blocked social ascent. Speaking Breton meant you were still a worker, a peasant, a seafarer. Speaking French meant you could be mobile, move up the ladder, upgrade yourself socially and economically”.
The Marxist Left had never had much interesting in protecting traditional rural culture, being “mesmerised by development, workers and the factory”, but in the 1970s there emerged a new kind of Left that did understand its significance and didn’t write off the struggle for the Breton language as inherently right-wing or even Fascist.
“People rediscovered their language, they rediscovered their land and they criticised ‘progress’, which had done so much damage”.
The economic “growth” and “progress” offered by industrial capitalism look very much like the growth and progress of a cancerous tumour within our planetary organism.
And industrial capitalism is itself the cause of the epidemic of cancer affecting the human species, a recent report has confirmed.
The wide-ranging US survey showed cancer rates are rising in poorer countries, as industrial “civilization” is imposed on them, while screening and preventative measures have halted the increase in the wealthier heartlands.
Another study has revealed that “avoidable factors such as toxic chemicals and radiation” – effects of industrial-capitalist civilization – lie behind cancer.
Dr David Katz, director of the Yale University Prevention Research Center said: “It is both tragic and unconscionable that risk factors for cancer and other chronic diseases are being actively exported by wealthy countries to developing countries. We are exporting causes, and thus cases, of cancer. Profit is being prioritized over human lives. Knowing this, and continuing in that vein, is all to our shame”.
Meanwhile, official figures are now suggesting that the big rise in life expectancy seen in the past few decades may be easing off.
Longevity may well have peaked with a generation which grew up in a healthier environment and also benefited from better medical facilities, while later generations have been exposed to a lifetime of cancer-inducing toxicity which will stop them living to a ripe old age.
* One of the many deceptions inflicted on the public by the pharmaceutical industry has been exposed by the Australian federal court, which ordered the drug giant Reckitt Benckiser to stop selling identical products marketed as specific Nurofen varieties for back pain, period pain, migraine pain and tension headaches. The profiteering corporation was selling the fake “specialist” remedies at twice the usual price.
A call has gone out to support UK anarchist prisoner Pete Simpson. Bristol Anarchist Black Cross report that Pete was remanded on the 17th December 2015. “He is awaiting trial for ‘violent disorder’ after being attacked & arrested by police at an anti-cuts mayday demonstration in Cardiff, South Wales. He is on trial with another co-defendant in January 2016. Pete has spent the last several months with an electronic tag, his freedom severely restricted, and a change of bail address led to the court remanding him to prison.” Please write to Pete at: Peter Simpson A6060CF, HMP CARDIFF, Knox Rd, Cardiff, WALES, CF24 0UG
* * *
Young people who question the government or media may be “extremists”, UK authorities have declared, as the full-scale Orwellisation of our society continues apace. The leaflet, handed to parents in London, says the danger signs of so-called radicalisation include “showing a mistrust of mainstream media reports and belief in conspiracy theories” and “appearing angry about government policies, especially foreign policy”. Numbed slack-jawed conformists gawping apathetically at the TV set are, presumably, the ideal non-extremist citizens of tomorrow.
* * *
Anarchism in Greece is the subject of an interesting report on the Aljazeera website. The article takes a closer look at “a new generation of Greek anarchists who, after years of recession and austerity, have lost all faith in the government, and even in the state itself”. The article explores the growing social element to the anarchist struggle, but stresses that there is still a battle to be fought on the streets, quoting one activist as saying “The revolution will not come with flowers. They need to see that we have the power to create but also to destroy. Again and again.”
* * *
If you’re looking for a plausible inside witness to the duplicity behind US imperialism (“the war on terror”), you could do worse than the former Supreme Allied Commander Europe of NATO. In this revealing video, General Wesley Clark dishes the dirt on long-term US plans to attack and destroy the governments of a string of states, including Iraq, Libya, Syria… and Iran. Meanwhile, this major piece by Nafeez Ahmed explains how Western involvement in Syria is set to benefit US, British, French and Israeli energy interests.
* * *
News of government plans for a new bypass through countryside to the north of Chichester, revealed in Acorn 18, has set alarm bells ringing in the city. A website and petition have been set up to counter the threat and “hundreds of angry residents” have opposed the A27 proposal. Local opponents have correctly identified the thinking behind the building of the new bypass (as opposed to the previously-favoured upgrading of the current route) as being all about “opening up” new countryside for profitable development. The Chichester Deserves Better site states: “Build a new bypass and Chichester loses all control over properly planned development. No longer will the city be able to grow in a planned, organic way. Instead, everything will be built in the lung of land closed in by the bypass. And not because it’s needed, but because it’s there. Build a bypass, and you’re also opening up the entire area to new industrial estates, shopping centres, housing estates”. Experienced anti-road campaigners have rightly warned, though, against short-sighted support for the southern A27 option: “Of course any style of road north of the city to cope with such an event is out of the question, but so is anything that increases traffic on the present southern ring road. A unified opposition and a no road here campaign is more likely to win the battle against the relentless increase traffic and the pollution that shortens our lives and that of the planet”.
* * *
This video shows a protest this month at a shareholders’ meeting and press conference of the world’s biggest ore producer, Vale, which was held at the Mayfair Hotel, London. A month earlier, on November 5, two tailings dams burst in the state of Minas Gerais in the south-east of Brazil. The dams were managed by Samarco, a joint venture between Vale, and the Anglo-Australian mining giant, BHP Billiton. An environmental disaster was unleashed as 60 million cubic metres of toxic slurry flattened five settlements and filled the River Doce floodplain. Twenty three people were killed, 600 displaced, and a quarter of a million left without clean water.
* * *
A new novel exploring art, anarchism and reality has been published by Orage Press. In Search of Experience is written by Dr Michael Paraskos, an expert on the works of the 20th century English anarchist Herbert Read, and is partly based on the diaries of his father Stass Paraskos, who was famously prosecuted by the British state in the 1960s for his “obscene” paintings. The book is reviewed here by Paul Cudenec.
* * *
Acorn quote:“Presented with a universal duty to defend public order, everyone is invited to inform, to grovel, to fear: for the first time in history cowardice becomes a sublime quality, fear is always justified and the only kind of ‘courage’ which escapes scorn is that of approving and supporting all the abuse and infamy of the state”.
Gianfranco Sanguinetti, On Terrorism and the State
1. Paris – tear gas, grenades and hundreds of arrests
Tear gas and grenades were fired by French riot cops against brave activists who defied martial law in France – and more than 200 people were arrested.
Thousands took to the streets of Paris against the hypocrisy of the industrial capitalist system and its phoney COP21 climate summit.
For their pains they were kettled, intimidated, attacked and gassed by the cops. “The state of emergency is a police state, a fascist state!” they shouted in defiance of the brutal force deployed by a state which has been so busily depicting itself as a victim, rather than a perpetrator, of violence.
Activist media reported several hundred arrests, with the police taking arrestees away in buses.
With the state of emergency conveniently in place for the COP21 summit (see below for analysis), all protests were banned.
Originally, the big protests planned for November 29 and December 12 were apparently outlawed because the crowds were “at risk” of terrorist attack, but it quickly became clear that the state of emergency was aimed as much as opponents of the industrial-capitalist system as at armed Islamists.
Several days before the start of COP21, several house arrests and police raids were aimed at activists close to the ZAD (anti-industrial protest camp) and environmental movement across the whole of France.
Six people were put under house arrest in Rennes, along with a Paris member of the legal team for the CoalitionClimate21, which consists of 130 groups, NGOs and unions. Police also tried to impose this measure on several people in Rouen, Lyon and elsewhere.
The house arrests are timed until December 12, the day after the end of the climate summit, making it clear that they are a political device used against protesters.
There were armed police raids at Ivry-sur-Seine (Val-de-Marne) and against organic vegetable sellers in the Dordogne.
In Nice a six-year-old girl was injured during a police operation: the officers who turned up in the middle of the night had smashed in the wrong door. In Loire-Atlantique, a caravan of 200 cycles accompanied by five tractors was blocked by the cops: they didn’t want the cyclists to go to Paris for COP21.
Meanwhile, all across France any event with the slightest hint of a political nature has been banned by the authorities without the need for any justification – in the southern city of Nîmes, for instance, a bookfair planned for November 21 and 22 was cancelled, while down the road in Alès a march against plans for a golf course and luxury housing development was likewise forbidden.
In this climate of fear, hysteria and general submission to authority, a group of dissidents took the courageous step of publishing a call to defy the state of emergency.
A signed letter published in Liberation newspaper and on the lundiam website (English translation here) called for people to head for the Place de la République in Paris at 2pm on Sunday – and so they did, in large numbers, despite the threat of six months’ imprisonment and a fine of 7,500 euros under martial law.
They were blocked into the square by an army of police, with checkpoints out of sight in the Metro. An hour of static protest was apparently all that the French state was prepared to tolerate. At 3pm police shouted through megaphones: “Dispersez-vous, nous allons faire évacuer la place!” – “Disperse! We are going to clear the square!”
The cops proceeded to attack the crowds, using grenades, tear gas and charges. The rebels didn’t take this lying down and there was spirited resistance to the uniformed robo-thugs. See this video, for example.
Needless to say, the corporate media was full of condemnations of the protesters, rather than of the state and its thugs.
Make no mistake – a very deliberate psychological attack is being made on the population of France by the imposition of the state of emergency and all the fear-mongering jingoistic hysteria accompanying it.
There is a big and obvious lie behind the role of the military-style police with their grenades, batons and poison gas, along with the bureaucrats and politicians who are happy to impose military-style law in the supposed home of liberté, and the lapdog journalists who churn out their propaganda.
They are not defending the people, as they laughably claim, but reasserting the brute power and violence through which every state demands the craven submission of its population.
2. Terrorism and the state – learning from history
Regular readers of The Acorn may have noticed a couple of themes that have cropped up regularly over the last few months.
One was the enormous potential of the COP21 protests for the renewed struggle against industrial capitalism (Acorn 14) – in Acorn 17 we reported how the French authorities were in a bit of a tizzy about the possibility of dissent on the streets.
The other theme was the big lie behind “anti-terrorism” – how it is an authoritarian phenomenon which hides behind the threat of “terror” to repress the population which is supposedly being protected (Acorn 12, Acorn 13, Acorn 16 and Acorn 17).
These two subject matters have come together in spectacular fashion in France, where the November 13 attacks in Paris have prompted a state of emergency which has involved the banning of the COP21 protests as well as raids on squats and activists.
The official, and laughable, justification for this is that it is to protect the crowds of protesters from attack by terrorists – funnily enough, football matches and Christmas shopping have been allowed to resume, despite what you might have imagined was the greater risk of attack.
The truth is that the terrorist attacks, and the ensuing police-state paranoia, have in many ways proved extremely convenient for the French state.
It has allowed it to ban protests, give free rein to the cops to carry out raids on anyone they don’t like, bring in new controls and legislation. Writes Nafeez Ahmed: “Under the extension, French police can now block any website, put people under house arrest without trial, search homes without a warrant, and prevent suspects from meeting others deemed a threat”.
The attacks have also, of course, been used to justify further neo-colonial warfare in the Middle East. Jingoism is suddenly the flavour of the day in France, with flag shops doing a roaring trade just like in the USA after 9/11. An increasingly unpopular and despised president has been able to reinvent himself as some kind of heroic war chief.
Other states have also been quick to exploit the attacks for their own political purposes. Belgium experienced what looked like a dress-rehearsal for a fascist military coup. For the UK government, the Paris attacks served as a handy boost for the bomb-Syria argument and also, usefully, another stick with which to beat opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn. It has also lead to a great cry for more funding for intelligence services, more powers of surveillance and so on and so forth.
The Paris incident has also, of course, been used across the continent to turn public sympathy for refugees into fear and to justify the closing down of Fortress Europe’s borders and the brutality inflicted on migrants like those at Calais.
In the USA, the Paris attacks have somehow been twisted into a condemnation of whistleblower Edward Snowden and calls on CNN for him to be hanged.
Warns Ahmed: “The ripple effect from the attacks in terms of the impact on Western societies is likely to be permanent. In much the same way that 9/11 saw the birth of a new era of perpetual war in the Muslim world, the 13/11 Paris attacks are already giving rise to a brave new phase in that perpetual war: a new age of Constant Vigilance, in which citizens are vital accessories to the police state, enacted in the name of defending a democracy eroded by the very act of defending it through Constant Vigilance”.
Many observers have noted the way that all of this falls neatly into the pattern of the Strategy of Tension in Italy in the 1970s and 1980s.
As we have previously pointed out (Acorn 12), it is now a matter of record that the Italian state, and NATO, were involved in facilitating acts of shock-and-awe terrorism targeting the general population. The goal was to frighten the people into the arms of the state and to thus extinguish the fires of growing left-wing rebellion.
The Italian situationist Gianfranco Sanguinetti wrote in his 1980 book On Terrorism and the State: “The aim from December 12 1969 to March 16 1978, and again today, has always remained the same, which is to persuade the whole population, including those who have lost any belief in the state or have been fighting it, that they have at least one common enemy with this state, from which the state will defend them on condition that it is no longer challenged”.
Pre-echoing Ahmed’s warning regarding democracy, Sanguinetti added: “The reasoning currently in vogue is simple: if you love democracy, you have to defend it; to defend it you have to fight its enemies; to fight the enemies of democracy, no sacrifice is too great: the nobility of the end justifies every means; no democracy for the enemies of democracy! Something which was never essentially a democracy has now visibly ceased being so”.
Faced with the spectre of fascist terrorism, even the Italian left rallied to the cause and supported draconian anti-terrorist legislation.
There is a tendency in radical anti-capitalist circles to shy away from anything that smacks of the dreaded “conspiracy theory” – partly, no doubt, because it is a kind of analysis that can too easily slip into absurd paranoia and far-right fantasies.
But you shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Or, to put it another way, just because the fibbing little boy has cried wolf far too often, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t now a pack of them coming down your street.
While theories about hoaxed moon landings or chemical vapour trails are nothing other than theories, the existence of Operation Gladio and its false-flag terror has been documented fact for the last quarter of a century, even if it is barely mentioned in mainstream media.
Another fact, as documented in great detail by the meticulous Ahmed, is that the UK, the USA and other NATO countries have close links to Islamic terrorist groups. It all began with the anti-communist “Afghan Rebels” in the 1980s, continued with the story of the good Muslims fighting the anti-NATO Serbs in the 1990s and the same “rebel” tag of approval was being applied to the broad range of Assad opponents in Syria until relatively recently.
If it doesn’t seem too much of a stretch of the imagination that the Turkish state might have collaborated with Islamists in the attack on left-wing pro-Kurd activists in Suruç this July (Acorn 12), why might we imagine that the French or British states would not be capable of something similar?
Of course, any suggestion that the Paris attacks were a modern-day version of the Strategy of Tension, in which the role of neo-fascist terrorist-puppets has been passed on to Islamist terrorist-puppets, remains firmly in the realm of “theory”.
It may seem odd that enemies of the French state, well armed with machine guns and explosives and with little apparent interest in their own survival, should prioritise attacks on cafes and a rock gig, rather than, say, the French Ministry of Defence, the police HQ or the Presidential Palace.
It may seem odd that two of them would feel the need to carry (fake) Syrian passports with them, so that they could be discovered at the scene and justify the ensuing military action.
It may seem odd that the alleged perpetrators were apparently already known to the authorities and yet allowed to move around Europe without hindrance.
It may seem convenient that the supposed “mastermind” was executed by the state and that his account will now never be heard. It was the testimony of imprisoned fascist terrorist Vincenzo Vinciguerra that did much to lift the lid on the Gladio false flag terror network – it was clearly a mistake to allow him to live to tell the tale, as Lee Harvey Oswald might agree.
All of this is merely comment, not even circumstantial evidence. We here at The Acorn are in no position to know who was behind the Paris attacks and what their aims were.
However, it is important to realise, and to remember, that the French and other states, that the industrial capitalist system as a whole, is certainly capable of sacrificing the lives of the public for its own purposes, even if that is not what happened here.
We all know that the lives of “foreigners” count for nothing in the eyes of this system – there were no crocodile tears for the 44 people killed in Beirut the day before Paris, let alone for all the innocent Iraqis, Afghans, Syrians and Libyans killed by “the West” in its endless imperialist wars, or indeed for the Yemenis and Palestinians murdered by its Saudi and Israeli allies.
But don’t imagine that European industrial capitalism draws a line at killing its own populations. One hundred years ago, a whole generation of young men was slaughtered at its behest, for instance.
More than that, remember all the men, women and children who have died in the wheels of its machineries, who have choked to slow deaths in its contaminated air, who have been eaten away by cancers feeding on its toxic excretions.
For all its sanctimonious moralising, industrial capitalism is itself a death cult.
It is a cult of power for the sake of power, growth for the sake of growth, which will do anything – literally anything – to ensure its own preservation and expansion. Murder, lies and hypocrisy are part of its very essence and we would do well never to forget that.
We warned in The Acorn 12, as recently as July this year: “The worrying lack of knowledge and understanding, even in radical circles, of the extent to which terrorism was secretly deployed by the capitalist system from the 1940s to the 1980s sadly means that there is little to stop it using the same techniques again today”.
As the Italian philosopher George Santayana wisely pointed out: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.
A powerful statement of solidarity with comrades in France was issued by Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet- DAF (Revolutionary Anarchist Action) in Turkey after the November 13 attacks:
“We feel the massacre in Paris deeply and share your sorrow. We have lived and still living through ISIS attacks supported by the state. From Şengal to Kobane, from Pirsus (Suruç) to Ankara, we have lost many comrades and friends.
“We are aware of the fact that the massacres aim to create fear, distrust and loneliness on us. Our pain is great and increases every day. In these periods, We have to grow the solidarity against the murderers that want to bury us into fear, loneliness and isolation.
“We see the simultaneous moves of the French state and other states aiming to direct the process. We know that these same strategies are realized in our region under the name of ‘Fight against Terror’.
“In this environment of distrust, people have a psychology of panic which is directed by the ideological devices of the state; the state oppression of revolutionaries and state politics restricting the freedom of the oppressed will be politically legitimized; and the racist discourse and politics will increase. The states use these extraordinary periods for their political, economic and social interests.
“We understand the situation that the peoples living in France are and will be in. We know the difficulty of carrying on one side the sorrow of the lost ones and on the side, struggling against the fascist mobilisations in the society created by the state. We stress that, even with this hardship, the struggle should be against the fear, the state and fascism.
“The sorrow you live is our sorrow, The rage you feel is our rage, your fight is our fight!”
Democracy in the UK, as in France, is increasingly being revealed as a hollow sham.
The latest slippage of the mask comes with the government’s announcement that it will take the final decision over whether fracking should be allowed in Lancashire.
A feisty local campaign against Caudrilla’s ecocidal proposals at Little Plumpton near Blackpool and Roseacre, near Elswick, resulted in victory this June, when county councillors threw out the applications (see Acorn 11).
The decision was hailed at the time by Greenpeace as “a Waterloo for the fracking industry” and one expert told the Daily Telegraph: “This decision is a serious setback for shale gas in the UK and many must be wondering if it can ever reach production phase”.
But the pro-fracking UK government was not prepared to sit back and allow the “localism” of public opposition to get in the way of its business chums’ profiteering.
While Cuadrilla’s appeal will still be considered in a three-week public inquiry and the planning inspector will submit a report, the actual decision will be made by Secretary of State for Local Government Greg Clark, Tory MP for Tunbridge Wells – because of the decision’s “major importance”.
Anti-fracking campaigner Barbara Richardson, of Roseacre Awareness Group, told Drill or Drop website: “So much for local democracy. These applications have been rejected at every level; by the residents, by the Parish Council, by the Borough Council and by the County Council. Even our Conservative MP, Mark Menzies, has stated publicly that the decision should be left to local politicians.
“This is about industrialisation of our countryside by an industry that is both dangerous and damaging to the environment, our health and climate change”.
Sue Marshall of the Preston New Road group added: “Now even the illusion of democracy is at risk with far-reaching consequences into all aspects of our lives.
“We don’t need to look abroad for terrorist threats: currently the greatest threat to us all is closer to home, in the heart of our government, whose blatant arrogance and disrespect for democratic process and destructive denial of human rights knows no bounds”.
A new threat to the Sussex countryside is emerging, as the state prepares to drive a new motorway-style trunk road across the southern English county.
The authorities have long been planning “improvements” to the existing bypass to the south of Chichester as part of their project to turn the A27 coastal road into a freight-heavy motorway linking the South-West to the Channel Tunnel.
But anti-roads campaigners have discovered that Highways England now looks like favouring the shock option of a completely new road across countryside to the north of Chichester, which would impinge on the South Downs National Park.
One told The Acorn: “They are definitely not, as had previously been thought, of just making a show of looking at it only then to rule it out on cost grounds; seems they are now serious about it”.
Leaving the existing dual carriageway north of Fishbourne, this would cross the A286 between Lavant and Chichester – straight through a popular ‘daffodil field’ – and go along New Road near Goodwood and rejoin at the A285 junction near Tangmere.
Added the campaigner: “In addition to the direct and indirect impacts on the South Downs National Park around Chichester, this would open the A27(M) floodgates eastward into Sussex, adding to pressure for a more motorway-like approach at Fontwell/Arundel/Worthing and beyond. It would thus create much more induced (long-distance) traffic than would have been the case with Chichester as a slower location. Local traffic and rural Sussex would be the loser.
“Why would they do this, when to do so they would potentially need to reallocate money from Arundel-and-Worthing? Perhaps they believe that if Chichester is bypassed with an expressway, then the other routes will in the end fall like dominoes to the required expressway standard, and we will have to accept the south coast near-motorway-standard strategic through route which ‘they’ want – including major offline bypasses at Arundel and at Worthing”.
Local anti-roads activists are convinced that the proposal would attract widespread opposition and that concerted action could trigger a more general resistance to the motorway threat to Sussex.
But they warn that the battle could prove decisive, either way: “A loss for the countryside at Chichester would very likely be fatal for attempts to protect the countryside at Arundel and Worthing. So the Chichester outcome looks likely, one way or the other, to determine the future of Sussex”.
Consultation is due to start in Spring 2016, with a decision on the route in Summer 2016 and work starting in 2018 – so now is the time to get active!
The next Reclaim the Fields European Assembly is to be held in Poland in January 2016, the network has announced. Anyone who wants to go is recommended to book transport now to Warsaw for Thursday January 21 to Sunday January 24 – the exact location will be announced closer to the date. More info here.
* * *
Are some trade unions little more than obedient cheerleaders for the industrial capitalist system? So it would appear from the latest disgraceful position taken by GMB. We reported back in (Acorn 11) that the “general” trade union was supporting fracking because of the “business need”. Now it is throwing the weight of its 630,000 members behind the expansion of London Heathrow Airport! Along with Unite union, it has joined forces with its industrialist friends at the Institute of Directors; the Confederation of British Industry; the British Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses, reports The New Statesman. The radical thinkers at GMB and Unite are apparently enthusing over the prospect of “jobs generated by the new infrastructure”. Words fail us.
* * *
Repression of those who dare to challenge the system continues across the world, as ever. On November 12 a joint international police operation in Milan arrested 8 comrades – 4 of them being based in Milan and other 4 in Athens – in connection with the Mayday riots in Milan (see Acorn 9 ). Infoaut reports that two more comrades, a Greek and an Italian one, are on the run – while four more from Milan and Como and another one from Athens are charged and under investigation without being arrested. In South Korea, police used tear gas and pepper spray in water cannons against the 130,000 demonstrators demanding the resignation of right-wing President Park Geun-hye. And this video taken by a passing motorist shows police repression of an anti-fascist demo at the Complutense University in Madrid on Friday November 20. At least six students were arrested, including members of the Juventudes Libertarias and CNT-AIT Madrid. Several young people were injured by the police assault.
* * *
In response to the likes of the above, anarchist imprisoned in Greece have issued a call-out for a “Black December” of “combative solidarity” which has been echoed internationally. Says a statement at contrainfo: “We call for the revival of the black memory of our dead and all those who have fallen in the fight for freedom and anarchy”.
* * *
Fifth Estate magazine in the USA is marking its fiftieth birthday at the moment. Hailed as “the longest running English language anarchist publication in North America, its contributors have included Fredy Perlman, David Watson and John Zerzan. The anniversary is being publicised via this rather cool video.
* * *
An Acorn reader got in touch having spotted a rather strange detail in an online job advert for someone to work on a “community resilience project” for a pseudo-environmental organisation called Groundwork South, whose mission is apparently “to make the South of England a greener and more prosperous place for people and communities”. The strange thing is that it says the role is about preparing people to respond to “emergencies and natural disasters” such as “flooding, pandemic flu, landslide, rioting…” Rioting? Well, nothing can be allowed to get in the way of “prosperity” after all. Biodegradable brooms at the ready, citizens, to sweep the riff-raff off the streets!
* * *
Finally, some good news for all who can’t wait to see the final collapse of life on the planet – US regulators have given the go-ahead to genetically modified salmon, the first GM animal destined for human consumption. The business behind it, AquaBounty, has produced an Atlantic salmon injected with a gene from Pacific Chinook salmon to make it grow faster – and boost its bosses’ prosperity, of course. The salmon are sterile.
* * *
Acorn quote:“The idea that we cannot have complete unrestricted freedom is based on the assumption that human beings cannot be trusted with that. The idea that we cannot be trusted is based on the assumption that there is no such thing as an innate tendency to goodness and co-operation. The idea that there is no innate tendency to goodness is based on the assumption that goodness is an artificial construct devoid of any practical content, rather than an inherent aspect of humanity’s ability to survive. The idea that this innate goodness has nothing to do with survival is based on the assumption that humanity is merely a collection of individuals, with their own personal survival as a priority, rather than a social organism with collective survival as its aim”.