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 firstname.lastname@example.org and say where you would like to leave from and return to. Also email email@example.com 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”.