The war-hungry capitalist propaganda machine has been in overdrive in recent weeks.
It has, of course, been relentlessly amplifying the views and narratives of the status quo and giving no platform for dissident opinion – that’s what it’s there for!
But in these days of social media and independent online journalism, that is no longer enough to ensure that its message is swallowed by the public and the system has also been churning out endless bile vilifying its opponents.
It has been doing this not only through its mainstream media but, as we will see, by means of commentators who superficially appear to be on the left.
Neoliberal reaction to the Skripal aftermath, in which people actually dared to question the official narrative, was furious, with former ambassador turned blogger Craig Murray attracting particularly vitriolic abuse.
The same thing happened all over again after the alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government in Douma.
A particularly nasty article which appeared on the BBC’s website on April 19 2018 had the clear aim of rubbishing opponents of a US/UK/French war against Syria, depicting them as “conspiracy theorists”.
It said: “The group includes activists and people who call themselves ‘independent journalists’, and several have Twitter followings reaching into the tens or hundreds of thousands. The activists call themselves ‘anti-war’, but as they generally back the Syrian government’s military operations against rebel forces seeking to overthrow Mr Assad and Russian air strikes carried out in support, it might be more accurate to describe them as ‘anti-Western intervention’ or ‘pro-Syrian government’.”
The BBC’s conclusion is clear. There is no such thing as an independent journalist or a genuine anti-war activist, only shady agents of sinister foreign forces. Challenging UK/US foreign policy means you are probably in the pay of The Enemy. Questioning official propaganda regarding Russia or Syria makes you an apologist for Putin or Assad and your opinions can therefore be disregarded.
This isn’t a subtle approach to winning an argument. It’s just an attempt to completely close down any possibility of dissent: “Our side are good. The other side are bad. If you criticise us, then you too are bad so nobody should listen to you.”
A similar approach has been taken in the fabricated controversy over alleged antisemitism within the UK Labour Party.
Because antisemitism is a sensitive issue, it has proved particularly easy here to disallow any challenge to the smears.
A denial that there is a particular problem with antisemitism in the Labour Party is regarded in itself to be evidence of antisemitism, or at the very least of a wilful desire to conceal the existence of antisemitism.
This little trap, worthy of the Inquisition, tells us nothing about the reality of the alleged antisemitism, because it would work just as well with any allegation against any group.
And, at the end of the day, the issue at stake is not actually antisemitism.
In an excellent article in Jacobin magazine, Daniel Finn, deputy editor of the New Left Review, pulls apart the agenda behind the smears.
He concludes: “Insinuations of antisemitism can be used, not merely to defame critics of Israel, but to discredit any radical critique of capitalism or imperialism in the modern world”.
This is the key point. The aim behind these smear attacks is not to oppose antisemitism as such – in fact, by crying wolf at the wrong targets, the accusers distract attention from real antisemitism and other forms of racism.
Instead their purpose is to attack the left using the “antisemitism” angle as the perfect weapon, because of the way that it is so difficult to refute without digging a deeper hole.
In the past, during the 20th century Cold War, the capitalist system would attack opponents by calling them Communist sympathisers, lackeys of the evil USSR.
The collapse of the Soviet bogeyman meant it had to modify its tactics. Instead of denouncing its anti-capitalist critics as being on the extreme left, which no longer seemed so scary, it sometimes found that allegations of far-right contamination were more effective.
When these allegations came from sources which appeared to be “left-wing”, the ideological smears could be effective in manipulating thinking within the left.
Ideally, the left would be remodelled along lines acceptable to the capitalist system. It would be allowed to espouse certain liberal social causes, demand a certain amount of reforms and so on, but would be steered away from challenging neoliberal imperialism or the fundamental assumptions of the global capitalist system.
The end result of this approach was very apparent in Germany, with the emergence of the Antideutsch movement which, in the name of this new authorised “leftism”, applauds US and Israeli imperialism.
In the UK, an important role was played by Norman Geras, a “left-wing” academic who supported the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq and in 2006 published his Euston Manifesto.
Under the guise of “a renewal of progressive politics”, this sought to push the UK left away from the opposition of the US and its neoliberal wars that had been so apparent.
It declared: “We reject without qualification the anti-Americanism now infecting so much left-liberal (and some conservative) thinking. The United States of America is a great country and nation. It is the home of a strong democracy with a noble tradition behind it and lasting constitutional and social achievements to its name.”
Nafeez Ahmed, in a 2015 article, explored the links between Geras and James Bloodworth of Little Atoms, a notorious defender of US neoliberalism who frequently lays into its critics from an apparently left-wing position.
Little Atoms is itself owned by an “impact agency” called 89up which, as we pointed out in Acorn 41, has been playing a key role in whipping up anti-Russian sentiment in the UK. Its boss Michael Harris has been a vociferous supporter of the bombing of Syria.
In France a site called confusionnisme.info, which is still online but hasn’t been updated since 2016, specialised in accusing various left-wingers and environmentalists of being tainted with fascism, of being “red-browns”.
Its leading light, one Ornella Guyet, even managed to get in very early on the antisemitism smears against Jeremy Corbyn, sticking the boot in via an article published in October 2015 just after he was elected Labour Party leader.
She says she is a “libertarian communist”, but in a piece exposing her activities, the left-wing website Le Grand Soir concluded that she was “an opportunist in thrall to the neocolonial and ultra-liberal system”.
It added: “Ornella Guyet claims to be ‘left-wing’, but her work proves the opposite.” It said she uses the cover of anti-fascism to attack genuine opponents of the capitalist system. “In this sense she is the perfect example of the Fake Antifa, a guard dog of power”.
This is all just the tip of the iceberg, of course. In truth, there is an enormous and well-funded international network of pundits, think-tanks and websites feverishly defending the interests of global capitalism and the USA.
Part of their modus operandi is to contaminate genuine anti-capitalism and anti-imperialism with an unsavoury odour of antisemitism or a “red-brown” form of fascism.
This tends to work, because no anti-fascist wants to be thought by his comrades to be somehow tainted by fascism.
The effect of all this propaganda, often spread no doubt by genuine activists who are not aware of its dubious origins, is to shift the parameters of left-wing anti-capitalist thinking, to gradually exclude views and ideological insights which were previously considered perfectly acceptable and even mainstream in anarchist and anti-capitalist circles.
We, here at Winter Oak, came across this phenomenon after we published the essay Envisioning a Post-Western World by Rob los Ricos and Paul Cudenec in July 2017.
It attracted some positive comments and was later reposted by some American comrades at Antidote Zine, although with what was, to us, a rather puzzling disclaimer.
Antidote wrote: “In light of recentdiscussions among antifascists (including here within the Antidote Writers Collective) about an esoteric but significant kind of red-brown convergence—the potential for fascist counter-recruiting on the more nihilistic, misanthropic fringes of deep green, Euro-pagan, and Malthusian eco-anarchist groups—we recognize that some of the arguments put forward in the article that follows are right on the knife’s edge.”
Anyone who reads the essay will see no sign of nihilism, misanthropism or Malthusianism, nor of any paganism that is specifically European. What was this “knife’s edge” stuff all about?
It turned out that the “recent discussions among anti-fascists” centred around the work of Alexander Reid Ross, who teaches geography in Portland, USA and who got his MA in 2014 from the prestigious private Swiss university, the European Graduate School.
Ross is author of Against the Fascist Creep (2017), a book which purports to show “how infiltration is a conscious and clandestine program for neofascist groups that seek to co-opt and undermine both mainstream and left-wing institutions”.
Here he claims that there is a “crossover” between fascism and revolutionary causes, conflates opposition to NATO with post-war fascism and claims that Earth First! has at some times in its history bolstered white supremacism through its appeals to Nordic paganism.
Not everyone was impressed. One online reviewer complained that the work “was absolutely ruined by a nearly complete lack of citations to back up the claims that were being made. As a result I had to do outside research to learn about the things that were being discussed, and when I did I discovered that many of the claims being made were exaggerations, manipulations, or outright lies”.
This is entitled “How Assad’s War Crimes Bring Far Left and Right Together – Under Putin’s Benevolent Gaze”. The sub-heading declares: “The ‘anti-imperialist’ left is now shilling for tyrants in Damascus and Moscow. And conspiracy theories are the toxic glue binding them to their fellow Assad and Putin apologists on the alt-right”.
A clue to Ross’s stance comes from the fact that the term “anti-imperialist” has been placed in scare quotes, as if this political position didn’t actually exist!
He writes: “In recent months, the crossover between leftists and the far-right in defense of Syria’s tyrant and Russian geopolitics has become increasingly obvious. Its implications are potentially disastrous for the course of the international left and political society in general.”
This is nonsense of course. The fact that some far-rightists oppose war on Syria does not invalidate left-wing opposition to the attacks, any more than the fact that some far-rightists support Palestinian rights and criticise Israel means that leftists should stop criticising Israel and should instead applaud the IDF when they murder unarmed protesters.
Ross is reading from exactly the same ideological script as the likes of Norman Geras, Ornella Guyet, James Bloodworth, Antideutsch and the smear-piece on the BBC site.
He is trying to use the bludgeon of an alleged ideological association with the far right as a way of silencing voices on the left who challenge the US imperialist narrative.
Ross really lets the cat out of the bag with his comments on the UK’s Labour Party, where he notes that “its leader Jeremy Corbyn’s controversial comments on the Skripal case brought widespread condemnations” and remarks on “Labour’s tepid response to the Douma attacks and Corbyn’s rejection of any humanitarian grounds for military action”.
Hang on! Let’s just read that again! Self-proclaimed anti-fascist Alexander Reid Ross is complaining about “Labour’s tepid response” to the alleged gas attack in Douma and its “rejection of any humanitarian grounds for military action”?
Doesn’t that sound more like the opinion of a right-wing neoliberal war hawk?
Ross’s article certainly raised the suspicions of Robbie Martin, aka @FluorescentGrey, on Twitter.
He pointed out that Ross uses a quote from Caroline O, aka @RVAwonk whom Ross describes as a “public scholar”.
On her Twitter account she identifies herself as Writer/Editor @Shareblue Media: “We tell real-world stories to give voice to the heroes fighting for American values”.
Caroline O is a great supporter of Hamilton 68, the surveillance project which claims to “track Russian propaganda” but in fact amounts to a McCarthyite system of blacklisting people whose views don’t please the neoliberal establishment.
As she tweeted on September 1, 2017: “Hamilton 68 is a great project. I’m hoping to see it expanded even more. I can see a lot of potential for it [to] grow.”
Hamilton 68 is a great project. I'm hoping to see it expanded even more. I can see a lot of potential for it grow.
The Hamilton 68 dashboard was launched as part of the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ADS), which is described in its Wikipedia entry as a “transatlantic national security advocacy group”.
The ASD is “chaired and run primarily by former senior United States intelligence and State Department officials” and the Washington Post called the membership of the advisory council “a who’s who of former senior national security officials”.
It is part of the German Marshall Fund of the United States which, as we explained in Acorn 39, aims to maintain “transatlantic values” in Europe.
Robbie Martin suggests that “Caroline O.’s main mission was to inject Alliance for Securing Democracy / Hamilton 68 into the neoliberal/resistance dialog, from people on that side of the argument she promoted it/pushed it more than anyone else I saw”.
He expresses surprise that Alexander Reid Ross would be “so nakedly working with the same people promoting Hamilton 68 / Alliance for Securing Democracy”.
With hindsight, it’s clear that the aim behind Alexander Reid Ross’s book Against the Fascist Creep was not to counter actual fascism, nor even to warn the left of the dangers of fascist infiltration, but to attack and undermine anti-capitalism by claiming its beliefs are tainted with fascist associations.
The real problem faced by anarchists and anti-capitalists is Neoliberal Creep – or, in fact, a whole network of neoliberal creeps, hell-bent on ideological sabotage.
So what can we do all about this? How can we resist these attempts to cripple the cohesion, credibility and effectiveness of genuine anti-capitalism, anarchism and anti-imperialism?
The first thing to do is to talk about it, as we are doing here. We need to take a good look at where these fake left voices are coming from, understand why they spread certain memes and sow confusion around certain issues.
There is the possibility, in fact, that in breaking cover and making their propaganda so obvious, they have already hammered a nail into the coffin of their own political effectiveness. We can hammer in another few nails by spreading awareness of what they are up to.
We also need to talk about what it is we really believe in, what we are hoping for, how we define ourselves in relation to Western capitalist modernity and the global neoliberal military-industrial-prison complex.
We need to talk honestly and seriously, ignoring the ideological smears, shaking ourselves free from the fearful group-think that stifles free thought and discussion in the name of a phoney “consensus”. This received opinion has often in fact been injected into movements by elements out to manipulate and destroy it.
Yes, of course we need to remain constantly alert to the possibility that we may inadvertently find ourselves voicing the same views on specific issues as people whose general politics we do not appreciate and that they might be deliberately attempting to use us to advance their own unsavoury messages.
To combat this, we need to state clearly where we stand. We at Winter Oak, for example, place ourselves firmly and proudly in the anti-fascist tradition. We are committed to its values of internationalism, equality, solidarity, mutual aid, anti-militarism, anti-sexism and anti-racism and we will never work with anyone who does not at least share these basic values.
If we all adhere to similar principles, we have no reason to fear the toxic smears coming from the likes of Ross.
Meanwhile, those liberals in our midst who agree with the Washington-approved definition of “democracy”, with the profit-guided “progressive values” of capitalism, with its insane obsession with endless economic “growth” and with its deceitful “humanitarian” warmongering imperialism, may well decide to stop associating with a revolutionary global struggle for liberation which opposes all of these.
So be it.
Do we really want to have anything to do with them, anyway?
1. “Let’s put our resistance on the streets in 2018!”
Resistance against the global capitalist system and its police-state repression will be coming to the streets of Europe at the start of 2018, with important international demonstrations planned for Switzerland and Germany.
The action, and discussion, in Switzerland this month revolves around the meeting at Davos of the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Swiss radicals are calling for anti-capitalist unity against the WEF and the plutofascist system it represents.
They say: “This year’s WEF slogan is ‘Creating a common future in a broken world’. We agree that the world is not what it should be. But unlike the WEF we see systematic causes for the ‘broken world’.”
In the run-up to the WEF meeting, which is being held on January 23 and 24, opponents are staging an alternative discussion weekend, on Saturday and Sunday January 20 and 21, looking at the capitalist system and how it might be resisted – how we can collectively “take the future into our hands instead of leaving it to the rulers”.
But before that an international protest has been called for Saturday January 13, gathering at 3pm at the Käfigturm off the Waisenhausplatz in the historic centre of the Swiss capital, Bern.
Say the Swiss anti-capitalists: “Capitalism and its policies are close to the abyss and states are prepared to prevent change with high levels of violence. Radical movements seeking to tackle the problems at their roots are being banned and suppressed across the world. Let’s put our resistance on the streets!”
Meanwhile, 500 miles to the north, at the other edge of German-speaking Europe, another protest against capitalist totalitarianism is being staged on Saturday March 17.
The demo in Hamburg is in protest at the massive levels of repression unleashed by an increasingly fascistic German state against anti-capitalists protesting against the G20 summit last summer.
While the shocking images of police brutality may have faded from the public’s mind, the repression continues, with ongoing police raids, arrests and prosecutions.
Many are warning that Germany is “sliding into fascism”.
The global neoliberal war on internet freedom has been particularly blatant in Germany, with Linksunten Indymedia being shut down by the state amidst fevered mainstream media scaremongering about the “threat” of left-wing “extremists”.
State violence against dissidents is becoming ever uglier, as during the recent protests against the far-right AfD.
For all their populist “anti-establishment” posturing, the extreme right in Germany and elsewhere have increasingly been revealed to be an intrinsic part of the authoritarian capitalist system; its shock-troops in fact. Their anti-Muslim rhetoric is closely linked to the racist and imperialist narrative of the pro-US, pro-Zionist establishment, as we reported in Acorn 37.
While police in Berlin police banned American and Israeli flags at a pro-Palestinian march in December, after some flag burning at a previous protest, the same capitalist-fascist robocop army protected AfD fascist-capitalists in Hannover, attacking their opponents with high-powered water cannon in freezing temperatures, leaving many injured.
Says a call for resistance from Berlin’s Rigaer 94 squat: “In this battle for capitalist and nationalist ends, the state will always end up demanding fascism. With the same tactics, they try time and time again to delegitimize resistance by branding it criminal, antisocial, and apolitical.
“The time of comfortable protests is long gone. Today, German society has arrived at an extreme it hasn’t reached in over 80 years.
“Determined and angry, despite the repression, we will fight against the ruling order!”
2. Fake democracy – neoliberals ramp up information war
It should by now be completely apparent to anyone paying attention that the US-led military-industrial-capitalist complex is a totalitarian system.
Until now, it has largely had the subtlety not to use its power of repression except when it really needs to, so that it can keep intact the crowd-control illusion of “democracy”.
Things are rapidly changing, though. Faced with serious cracks in its domination, it is clamping down on dissent in a big way.
The latest trick to disguise and justify its censorship is the “fake news” meme, a cunning plan to conflate invented content with content unwelcome to the political elite.
As Chris Hedges of the truthdig website states: “The corporate state is unnerved by the media outlets that give a voice to critics of corporate capitalism, the security and surveillance state and imperialism.”
The Civic Critic blogsite has produced a handy guide to “fake news” featuring a series of links to articles covering the phenomenon.
It says: “Started in late 2016 as a reference to made-up stories, hoaxes, and Onion-style parodies, ‘Fake News’ has since been adopted by Donald Trump and his supporters to describe any negative press. Those in many establishment news sources often use ‘Fake News’ to refer to ‘exaggerated, hyper-partisan, and conspiratorial journalism’. Fake News is thus perhaps best understood as a rhetorical weapon in a multi-faceted Information War.”
The clamp-down on information has rapidly accelerated at the start of 2018, as the World Socialist Web Site reported on Saturday January 6.
On January 1, for instance, the German government began implementing its new Network Enforcement Law, or “NetzDG”, which threatens social media companies with fines of up to €50 million if they do not immediately remove content deemed objectionable by the state.
The UK has adopted a slightly different approach, with minister of state for security Ben Wallace warning internet giants that they could be penalised through taxes if they fail to cooperate with government efforts to fight “terrorism and online extremism”.
In France, neoliberal “centrist” president Emmanuel Macron also obligingly leapt into action, announcing plans to counter “fake news” during elections by allowing state judges to block websites or user accounts.
Somewhat letting the cat out of the bag regarding the real political agenda behind the “fake news” meme, he declared: “Thousands of propaganda accounts on social networks are spreading all over the world, in all languages, lies invented to tarnish political officials, personalities, public figures, journalists”.
Tarnishing political officials? We can’t have that, can we?
Of course, in the back-to-front language of the capitalist elite, the aim of this “strong legislation” is not to impose capitalist rule but to “protect liberal democracies”, as Macron put it.
The invention of the term “fake news” to cover online censorship is no more subtle than the pre-existing excuses of “terrorism”, “extremism” or “hate-speech”. The co-ordinated use of these overlapping labels for the same purposes makes it obvious that there is a definite political agenda at work here.
Greenwald notes: “As is always true of censorship, there is one, and only one, principle driving all of this: power. Facebook will submit to and obey the censorship demands of governments and officials who actually wield power over it, while ignoring those who do not. That’s why declared enemies of the US and Israeli governments are vulnerable to censorship measures by Facebook, whereas US and Israeli officials (and their most tyrannical and repressive allies) are not.
One of the most shocking examples was the 2015 conviction of 12 protesters in France for “hate speech” which consisted merely of wearing T-shirts declaring “Long live Palestine, boycott Israel”.
The current attack on free speech is being co-ordinated by the upper echelons of the military-industrial-capitalist system.
The European Commission, for example, announced last year that it was forming a High Level Group “to advise on policy initiatives to counter fake news and the spread of disinformation online”.
Another leading player in the international initiative is a new US-based organisation called the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD).
Set up under the excuse of combating what it calls an “unprecedented attack” on United States democracy by Russia, it is described in its Wikipedia entry as a “transatlantic national security advocacy group”.
In case you haven’t caught the drift as to what this implies, note that the ASD is “chaired and run primarily by former senior United States intelligence and State Department officials”. The Washington Post called the membership of the advisory council “a who’s who of former senior national security officials”.
The original Marshall Plan was a $13,000,000,000 American “aid” scheme to Western Europe after the end of the Second World War, amounting to an economic and cultural occupation similar to that of the Soviet Union in the Eastern Block.
Noam Chomsky has described it as having “set the stage for large amounts of private US investment in Europe, establishing the basis for modern transnational corporations”.
The GMF carries on the same work. It helps maintain a full-spectrum US neoliberal control of Europe – or rather, in its own sweet language, it “strengthens transatlantic cooperation on regional, national, and global challenges and opportunities in the spirit of the Marshall Plan”.
It has dished out millions of Yankee dollars across Europe over the decades. It has also run a US-Europe parliamentary exchange program and the Marshall Memorial Fellowship, which has funded the exchange of more than 3,000 “emerging leaders” across the Atlantic.
Why? Simply to ensure that there is no real democracy in Europe and that all its politicians are obedient poodles to the US and its corporate controllers.
French president Macron is a product of the Marshall Memorial Fellowship scheme.
And German chancellor Angela Merkel celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Marshall Plan in June last year, alongside the odious imperialist warmonger Henry Kissinger.
She praised GMF’s work, saying: “For Germany, GMF helps to understand the American spirit. And, GMF helps Americans understand our country. For more than 45 years, GMF has served as a transatlantic exchange, building mutual understanding, providing information, clarifying positions, and identifying commonalties.”
The GMF is regarded as a pioneer of American “soft power” in Europe, but its work interfaces smoothly with the US military occupation. In 2004, it organized a major conference in Istanbul in the run-up to the NATO Summit.
It describes its mission as “sustaining, deepening and enlarging the liberal international order” – in other words, US neoliberal hegemony.
And it makes it clear that it is worried about the cracks currently appearing in the empire, stating: “This order is under assault on multiple fronts, both internal and external, and on both sides of the Atlantic: from populist forces in America to Russian interference in Western elections, from anti-EU movements to the backlash against new trade agreements, from the rise of great power revisionism to question marks over the future of US alliance leadership”.
As contributions to its own website make clear, the GMF aims to keep Europe firmly under the thumb of the US empire and of the multinational corporations in whose interests it functions.
It reacts with panic to any dent in the pro-American, pro-capitalist cultural and political “consensus” that it and other organisations have been working so hard to impose on the population of Europe since the Second World War.
A recent article by Alina Inayeh of the GMF’s Bucharest office cautions: “The transatlantic community, its values, and norms held rich intrinsic value in the early 1990s and provided an engine for change in Eastern Europe in subsequent years.
“But a transatlantic orientation has shifted from a major objective to a series of political, military, and economic transactions. The governments in both Central and Eastern Europe, facing elections throughout 2018 and 2019, will intensify their nationalist paths, and/or further slow their already almost stagnant adoption of transatlantic principles.
“At the same time, security and military cooperation will continue, pushed forward by real security threats and economic interests. But this cooperation will be isolated from transatlantic values, which will be ignored or even flouted.”
Rejection of the NATO occupation of Europe, rejection of neoliberal free trade agreements, rejection of capitalism – all of this represents a rejection of what Inayeh coyly terms “the transatlantic community, its values, and norms”.
This is why the GMF has launched the “fake news” meme and the ASD. This is why the Americans are ordering their European puppets like Macron and Merkel to take authoritarian action against dissent.
We should be very aware that the neoliberal-fascist elite will stop at nothing to ensure they cling on to total power.
As Hedges warns in his article: “This is a war of ideas. The corporate state cannot compete honestly in this contest. It will do what all despotic regimes do – govern through wholesale surveillance, lies, blacklists, false accusations of treason, heavy-handed censorship and, eventually, violence.”
The shock of Donald Trump’s presidential election victory has prompted an encouraging upsurge in militant anti-fascism in the USA.
Antifa have been particularly active, and effective, in mobilising against American Nazis and racists who have been emboldened by Trump’s ascent and see their toxic ideas as being in the ascendancy.
However, Antifa’s success has inevitably prompted a backlash from opponents and as part of this reaction one particular journal has been consistently smearing and attacking them (see here, here and here).
The labels it uses are themselves a big giveaway as to its bias. The Nazis are politely described according to their own self-description, as “white nationalists”, while Antifa are termed “anti-fascist extremists”.
Notorious US racist Richard Spencer is presented merely as a “white-nationalist leader who organized free-speech rallies on many campuses” and given a direct voice in the report, promising that “he plans to take his movement to more universities in 2018”.
Antifa are depicted as a “secret” and “violent” organisation adopting the tactics of the Nazis, with the heavy implication that they are even more of a threat, basically terrorists, and that the authorities ought to clamp down on them fast.
Readers are told: “Federal authorities have been warning state and local officials since early 2016 that leftist extremists known as ‘antifa’ had become increasingly confrontational and dangerous, so much so that the Department of Homeland Security formally classified their activities as ‘domestic terrorist violence’.
“By the spring of 2016, the anarchist groups had become so aggressive, including making armed attacks on individuals and small groups of perceived enemies, that federal officials launched a global investigation with the help of the US intelligence community, according to the DHS and FBI assessment.
“The purpose of the investigation, according to the April 2016 assessment: To determine whether the US-based anarchists might start committing terrorist bombings like their counterparts in ‘foreign anarchist extremist movements’ in Greece, Italy and Mexico, possibly at the Republican and Democratic conventions that summer.
“Several state law enforcement officials said that all of those accelerating factors have come to pass. And recent FBI and DHS reports confirm they are actively monitoring ‘conduct deemed potentially suspicious and indicative of terrorist activity’ by antifa groups.”
What has surprised anti-fascists is that the magazine in question, Politico, is not usually regarded as part of the far right, but rather of the Center, or Centre as we spell it in the UK.
So what is behind Politico’s obvious hostility to Antifa? What political agenda lies behind its scaremongering propaganda?
The first clue should come from the fact that Politico is associated with “The Center/Centre”. As we said in Acorn 34, this is an insidious term used to define extreme neoliberal capitalism as a norm, as a default position, as a “common sense” non-ideology whose assumptions and aims can never be fundamentally challenged, except by “extremists”.
French president Emmanuel Macron is a centrist. So is former UK prime minister Tony Blair. Say no more!
The second clue relates to the origin of its stories about the US authorities’ concerns over the Antifa “threat”. Politico tries to get away with implying that they have merely received leaked official documents but, as It’s Going Down notes, they themselves take up the official “domestic terrorist” line with great gusto.
Politico seem to be very close to mysterious sources such as “a senior state law enforcement official”. When they write of “interviews and confidential law enforcement documents obtained by Politico“, how exactly were these documents “obtained”? Via an unauthorised leak or over a cosy lunch?
Politico’s concerns about Antifa are very much the concerns of the authorities. There is, for example, much anxiety about several significant “intelligence gaps,” including an inability to penetrate the groups’ “diffuse and decentralized organizational structure”. [Trots please note!]
This stance is perhaps to be expected because research reveals that Politico is very closely linked to a shadowy political network which defines its role as defending the interests of US capitalism and imperialism.
Take, for example, its chief international affairs columnist Susan B. Glasser, who was in fact one of Politico’s founding editors.
A graduate of Harvard University, Glasser is former editor in chief of Foreign Policy magazine and spent four years travelling the former Soviet Union as The Washington Post’s Moscow co-bureau chief, covering the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When she’s not doing journalism, she is a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution which is, as we reported in Acorn 28, a high-profile US “Think Tank“, recently accused of having a “cozy relationship” with its corporate donors.
Glasser was mixing in similar circles in June 2017 when she had the honour of moderating an event called “The Eastern Mediterranean: Challenges, Opportunities, and the Path Ahead – A Conversation with Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades” in Washington, DC.
And the organisers of the meeting? Why, none other than the GMF, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, which will be a familiar name to those of you who have already the article above this one…
Indeed, Politico seems to have long enjoyed a very warm relationship with the GMF, that noble defender of US neoliberal supremacy.
In November 2012, for instance, John Harris, editor-in-chief of Politico in Washington, DC, delivered the keynote address at a reception in Berlin marking the 30th anniversary of GMF’s Marshall Memorial Fellowship.
How come? Well, it turns out he not just a good pal of the GMF but a member of its Board of Trustees!
Readers will be pleased to hear that links between Politico and the GMF continue to be strong.
On Wednesday March 22, 2017, the German Marshall Plan’s Brussels Forum was staged at the Microsoft Center in the Belgian capital.
Many very worthy liberal and democratic organisations were represented, such as Google, ExxonMobil, Centrica, Chevron, BP, Deloitte, Raytheon and NATO.
It must have been quite a party. US Special Operations Command were there, and the US National Counterterrorism Center. And Israel Broadcasting. And the Mission of Israel to the European Union. And the European Association of Mining Industries
Douglas Carswell, the right-wing British politician and former UKIP MP, was among the participants. Oh, and of course, David Herszenhorn and Ryan Heath from Politico.
Heath’s biography reveals a background typical of Politico staff.
He began his illustrious career as a speechwriter for the British civil service, before joining the European Commission. His journalistic integrity means he is regularly sought out as a policy commentator by the likes of the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and Deutsche Welle and he has been trusted to report from major events such as the WEF meeting in Davos (see above), G7 summits, and US political conventions.
Again and again, Politico’s “journalists” turn out to have taken a similar path through life.
Like Heath, Kristina Kausch has a background with the European Commission, which has provided a two-year fellowship for her to work for the GMF in Brussels. She has been a non-resident associate of the CIA-linked Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and worked for the now-defunct “international development think tank” FRIDE.
Politico contributor Jamie Fly has a particularly impressive CV. A senior fellow at the GMF, he also works with its offshoot the ASD.
He served in the Bush administration at the National Security Council, and in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He was director for Counterproliferation Strategy at the National Security Council, where his portfolio included the Iranian nuclear program, Syria, missile defense and chemical weapons.
For his work in the Department of Defense, he was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service. He has also worked at the World Bank.
The GMF isn’t even very shy about its close links to Politico, publishing a link to this November 2017 article by Glasser which features Laura Rosenberger, director of the ASD and a senior fellow at the GMF.
Rosenberg’s bio informs us that she was previously foreign policy advisor for “Hillary for America” and prior to that, she served “in a range of positions at the State Department and the White House’s National Security Council”.
The GMF was particularly keen to endorse an “excellent” Politicoreport on the 2017 election victory of Emmanuel Macron, who is after all a leading “centrist” and product of the Marshall Memorial Fellowship scheme.
You could be forgiven for thinking that Politico was the GMF’s own in-house publication!
Having examined the nature of Politico’s political agenda, we can return to our initial question. Who is behind the smear attacks on Antifa?
Well, fascists of course! Fascists close to the American state who claim to be “centrists” defending liberal democracy against fake news and extremists, but fascists none the less.
The hypocrisy of states such as the UK when it comes to terrorism is simply breathtaking.
They relentlessly exploit the fear of terrorism to justify everything from foreign wars to erosion of freedom at home, while all the while being happy to use terrorists for their own ends.
A good example of this came from documents just released by the Irish government under their 30-year rule.
These included a 1987 letter from the loyalist terrorist group the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) addressed to the then Irish PM Charles Haughey.
The loyalists claimed their organisation was used by MI5 and MI6, backed up by British Army special forces, from 1972 to 1978 and again in 1985.
“In 1985 we were approached by a MI5 officer attached to the NIO (Northern Ireland Office) and based in Lisburn, Alex Jones was his supposed name,” the UVF said. “He asked us to execute you.”
The previously secret letter, on UVF headed paper, showed the loyalists told Mr Haughey that the MI5 operative gave details of his cars, photographs of his home, his island, Inishvickillane, and his yacht, Celtic Mist.
The UVF added: “MI5 were double-crossing us all the time we were working with them. We executed some of our best men believing them to be traitors”.
Documents such as these provide important insights into true nature of the UK state, not just in the past but in the present as well – and that is presumably why those lingering in the British archives tend to go missing.
The war in Ireland allowed the UK state to perfect “counterinsurgency” techniques which have subsequently been rolled out across the world.
Central to these were the theories of Brigadier Frank Kitson, as this recent article on the Bella Caledonia website sets out.
Kitson stressed the value of covert operations, the ‘turning’ of insurgents through ‘carrot and stick’ measures, and what he called ‘countergangs’ or ‘pseudogangs’, which could infiltrate or deceive insurgents.
“In essence, Kitson envisaged the paramilitarisation of the British Army, switching its focus from conventional to unconventional warfare, training troops ‘to support civil power’ in mock-ups of Belfast streets, adopting the techniques of insurgents, and fighting ‘terrorism’ with state terror units in a form of gang warfare,” says the article.
He was also a pioneer of psyops (psychological operations) and media manipulation by briefing and spin, and he established close relationships with British journalists in Northern Ireland, turning them into “useful mouthpieces”.
The existence of these pseudogangs and psyops, and the way they are deployed by the secret state, is key to understanding the world around us.
Historically, the whole history of NATO’s “Gladio” stay-behind/terror network in Western Europe is worth studying – this 1992 BBC documentary film is an excellent introduction.
And there are plenty of writers specialising in exposing these shadowy areas – in the UK notably Nafeez Ahmed, Robin Ramsey and Mark Curtis, whose latest book, an updated version of Secret Affairs: Britain’s Collusion with Radical Islam has just been published.
Humankind needs to reconnect with an ancient anarchic wisdom which has been deliberately hidden from us by the dominant industrial capitalist system, says Winter Oak author Paul Cudenec in his first blogpost of 2018.
He explains: “This philosophy has always existed as an underground heresy beneath the surface of dominant society and emerges again and again in renewed forms throughout history”.
A key part of this philosophy, he says, is a sense of unity, a sense of our belonging to a greater whole.
“Human beings, because they are living parts of a universal organism, are imbued with the same patterns and structures as the rest of the Universe and, of course, as the rest of the natural world on this planet.
“Significantly, this includes our mental processes. Human thinking, including our philosophies, is a continuation of the complex patterns of the cosmos and of nature and not something outside of them.
“Just as our existence is part of the existence of the Universe, so is our thinking part of the thinking of the Universe. Our thinking is the Universe’s thinking and our thinking is nature’s thinking – both interpreted through the filter of our particular human existence.
“The structures of the Universe and of nature are contained deep within us and are reflected in the physical reality of our bodies and in the abstract realities of the thinking generated by our physical bodies.
“This would continue to be the case even if every single human being alive today denied that it was so. But the Wisdom maintains that an awareness of this innate structure is essential to an understanding of who we are and how we should live.
“Individuals are all manifestations of the Universe. This Universe needs there to be physical forms of reality so that it can actually exist as a physical entity, rather than as an abstract idea; it needs there to be living physical beings so that it can also be alive and it needs there to be actual physical thinking happening so that it can, itself, think.
“The Universe also needs individual human beings to act on their thinking, so that it too can, through them, act on its (decentralised) thinking. How else can the Universe, the sum of all reality, be present in its own self-forming other than through the actions of its constituent parts?
“Our actions, our lives, are the Universe in the act of self-creation. Our doing something is the Universe establishing its own shape, through us. Nothing we do has already happened, or already been planned. As we do it, it becomes real.”
Explaining the thinking behind this approach, Cudenec writes: “A philosophy combining contemporary anarchist insights with the age-old Wisdom I have been outlining is a powerful one, which is why it is deemed so unacceptable, so unthinkable, by modern capitalist-friendly thinking.
“It represents, for me, our best chance of finding the collective mental strength and courage to walk out of this dark industrial capitalist nightmare towards a bright and free future”.
Attacks and smears against anarchists by the Brazilian state and corporate media is the theme of an emotive new video on the submedia site. It declares: “Let’s not fool ourselves, we’re in the middle of a war. A disguised and all-pervasive war. A war between the oppressors and the oppressed; between the rich and everybody else…”
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“Democracy encourages a liberal Western concept of the individual, of the individual as this isolated unit with rights that pertain to public participation, which means participation within a centralised and hierarchical sphere of decision-making, rather than this organic being in the world who exists according to communal relationships, according to relationships with the natural environment.” So says US anarchist author Peter Gelderloos in an in-depth audio interview which can be heard here.
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Consumer culture is creating a psycho-spiritual crisis, writes John F Schumaker in an article on the opendemocracy website. He says: “Without an existential compass, the commercialized mind gravitates toward a ‘philosophy of futility’, as Noam Chomsky calls it, in which people feel naked of power and significance beyond their conditioned role as pliant consumers. Lacking substance and depth, and adrift from others and themselves, the thin and fragile consumer self is easily fragmented and dispirited… Consumerism and psychic deadness are inexorable bedfellows.”
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The UK’s Anarchist Action Network meeting planned for December had to be postponed because of snow, so it has been rearranged. It will now be held on Sunday January 21, from 1pm to 4pm, at the Cowley Club, 12 London Rd, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 4JA. All anarchists welcome.
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“We acknowledge no authority higher than ourselves, and we will continue to act in accordance with the aspirations of our spirits for freedom and dignity. We will continue to fight in defense of Mother Earth, on behalf of future generations and all our relations, consequences be damned.” This was the powerful message relayed by Montreal Counter-Information in Quebec following the sentencing on December 18 of two anarchist comrades for their role in a 2015 direct action in which a pipeline was physically shut down. There is a fundraising page to help the activists pay costs.
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What are the effects of “screen culture” on human behaviour, intelligence and the environment? How did we get here? Who benefits? What may come next if this culture is left unchecked, to its end trajectory, and is that what we want? A thought-provoking new independent film by Jordan Brown, Stare Into The Lights My Pretties, investigates these questions with an urge to return to the real physical world, to form a critical view of technological escalation driven by rapacious and pervasive corporate interests. It can be seen here.
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“We need to make haste. Political censorship is becoming routine across the worldwide web. A free and open internet is to be abolished by the Trump administration. Dissent, once tolerated in the mainstream, has regressed to a metaphoric underground as liberal democracy moves towards a form of corporate dictatorship.” The timely warning comes from veteran investigative reporter John Pilger in an excellent talk which can be seen online. He says: “This is an historic shift and the media, both mainstream media and social media, must not be allowed to be the facade of this new order and should be subjected to direct action.”
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Fans of Winnie the Pooh will be delighted to hear that he, Piglet, Eeyore and friends feature in a brand new 21st century vignette of English rural life, in which the Hundred Acre Wood is targeted for fracking, Tigger gets arrested and Pooh invents the lock-on by mistake. Open the first page here.
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Acorn quote: “I have used the myth of the goddess Gaia to express the idea that we are an integral part of a single, intelligent life-form which acts like an individual. I have tried to show how it is that we can never separate ourselves from this life-form, despite our delusions of dominance and control, because should we succeed in doing so, we would be committing an irreversible act of mass suicide: as if an arm tried to exist separately from the body”.
The primate resistance movement has struck out against those who want to destroy our planet and replace us with robots.
A group of French activists swung into action on Monday November 20, at the start of a conference in the south-western city of Bordeaux which was celebrating the “cyborg future” of humankind.
They made their move under the label of the Bordeaux Chimpanzees of the Future, referring to the infamous comment by UK transhumanist techno-guru Kevin Warwick that, in a tomorrow’s world peopled by AI-enhanced cyborg hybrids, actual living human beings like you and me would be regarded as nothing more than evolutionary remnants. We would be the “chimpanzees of the future” as he arrogantly put it.
In keeping with their primate identity, the activists scattered banana skins around the conference venue, as well as a leaflet explaining why they were there.
This pointed out that Bordeaux had just seen the arrival of a branch of the Singularity University, “a propaganda tool of the techno-totalitarianism founded by Ray Kurzweil (top transhumanist at Google), under whose patronage the conference is being held”.
And it declared: “We don’t function, we live. We weren’t built, but born. We refuse to be ‘customised into cyborgs’. We refuse to ‘get ready to change planet’. We want to live on earth and remain free and human”.
The transhumanist cult represents the worst excesses of industrial-capitalist fantasy, dreaming of a humanity with artificial bodies and replaceable parts whose brains will eventually be uploaded into computers, giving them unimagined mental powers.
Not so long ago, this strange vision was regarded as little more than a weird joke, but it has increasingly become the religion of the technological avant-garde and has even succeeded in contaminating some so-called “anti-capitalist” thinking with its ultra-capitalist creed.
The transhumanists’ dream is a nightmare not just for human beings but for the living planet as a whole, as it depends on ongoing industrialisation and all the environmental destruction that this brings with it – a harsh fact that transhumanists try to avoid.
As Paul Cudenec writes in Nature, Essence and Anarchy: “On the most basic level, the industrialist vision of a technological posthuman future is entirely divorced from the physical realities of industrialism. Even if post-natural posthumans managed to upload their minds (or, rather, soulless copies of their brains) into a virtual realm of their own construction, the objective reality of the world they thought they were escaping would not somehow cease to exist.
“Pollution would worsen as the technological world expanded, animals would suffer from its consequences, the food chain would be imperilled, the very life-system of the earth would be at risk. Their technological bubble would still be dependent on an outside reality and infrastructure.
“There would still have to be mines to extract the minerals to build the computers, oil and gas wells to provide the energy, waste to be disposed of, pipelines and cables to be laid and repaired, flood defences to be built or strengthened as the climate span further into extremities, cooling systems to be installed for the huge banks of computer servers, bolts to be tightened, cogs to be lubricated, mould to be wiped off walls, and so on ad nauseam.
“Even if all the hard labour was done by machines and there were further machines to repair those machines, who would repair these? Who would be doing all the dirty work, wiping the metaphorical bottoms of the immortal posthuman narcissists plugged into their ego-massaging virtual existences?
“A race of ‘chimpanzee’ slaves maybe, the left-over essentialist scum who had refused to jump on the naturaphobic bandwagon to oblivion?”
A poignant short film celebrating the UK road protests of the early 1990s can now be seen online.
I Am Alive by Tom Lloyd, Gill Barron and Mark Melville combines archive footage shot over the summer of 1994 from roof-tops and tree-tops with a poetic voice-over and haunting soundtrack evoking the beauty in finding the courage to defend life.
And it reminds us that although particular battles of the time, such as at Solsbury Hill or Wanstead, were lost to the forces of industrialism, a generation’s war on roads was won, with the UK government putting new schemes on hold for decades in the face of the inspiring resistance.
The effort, the trauma, the arrests and the convictions will all be vindicated by history, as will one day all the current struggles against fracking, pipelines, mines, airports, high speed rail lines and all the other assaults on Mother Earth.
As the film says: “Land isn’t a commodity: it doesn’t belong to us. It’s a community: we belong to it.
“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”
The so-called “need” for economic growth is the perfect excuse for the industrial capitalist system to keep expanding, exploiting and exterminating, so arguments for “degrowth” have a massive radical potential.
The movement is little known in the UK, but is becoming increasingly influential elsewhere. For instance, next summer sees the 6th International Degrowth Conference in Malmö, Sweden. It will take place from August 21-25 2018 and is organised by the Institute for Degrowth Studies (Institutet för nerväxtstudier). There is a call for participation for academics, activists and artists (deadline: December 31).
Across the Atlantic, the first North-South Conference on Degrowth will be held in Mexico City from June 19 – 21 2018, supported by universities, NGOs, and social movements.
This is the first time a Latin American country will host an international gathering on Degrowth, after five conferences in Europe and one in Canada. Decolonisation of the imaginary, survival, cultures, and wealth will be the main issues under discussion.
Degrowth ideas are also sneaking into mainstream European thinking. From September 18-19 2018 a post-growth conference supported by various “stakeholders” (Members of the European Parliament from different political groups, academics, NGOs and unions) will take place in the premises of the European Parliament in Brussels. The date coincides with the 10th anniversary of the collapse of the US Bank Lehman Brothers that sparked the “economic crisis” justifying the intensification of neoliberal economics.
The work will be preceded by a preparatory session at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and followed by a debriefing and exchanges on how to coalesce allies to ensure that change will actually happen.
There is lots of English-language information on degrowth on the German website, degrowth.info.
Explaining the basic idea, it states: “By ‘degrowth’, we understand a form of society and economy which aims at the well-being of all and sustains the natural basis of life. To achieve degrowth, we need a fundamental transformation of our lives and an extensive cultural change.
“The current economic and social paradigm is ‘faster, higher, further’. It is built on and stimulates competition between all humans. This causes acceleration, stress and exclusion. Our economy destroys the natural basis of life. We are convinced that the common values of a degrowth society should be care, solidarity and cooperation.
“Humanity has to understand itself as part of the planetary ecological system. Only this way, a self-determined life in dignity for all can be made possible”.
A woman convicted of disrupting an arms fair in Wales has defiantly stood by her actions.
D told the court in Cardiff: “My motivation that day was to stop the arms fair. I am not denying it – what I am saying is that I was trying to prevent something worse from happening.”
She was found guilty by the court of making hoax calls claiming there was a bomb at the Motorpoint Arena, which was hosting the Defence Procurement, Research, Technology and Exportability event, better known as Cardiff Arms Fair.
D was expecting to go to prison, but in fact received a suspended sentence and an order to pay £2000 costs and £115 “victim surcharge”.
She declared afterwards: “I said when I was first arrested that it was the arms dealers who should have been arrested in my stead, and I still believe it’s the arms dealers and the UK Government who should have been in the dock on trial for their complicity in war crimes.
“My resolve in opposing the arms trade has only been strengthened by this experience and I hope to see a huge protest outside next year’s DPRTE Arms Fair at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.”
Said a report from Bristol Defendant Solidarity: “It was very inspiring to hear the defendant, D, clearly tell the judge and the jury that she was not sorry for her actions and that she remains committed to direct action against war and the arms industry.
“Her explanation of how she could not stand by while arms dealers furthered their profits by marketing mass murder was very powerful. She admitted making the calls, but argued that she was acting to prevent a greater crime by aiming to stop the selling of arms used for ‘mass indiscriminate killing of civilians’.
“Her moving account of witnessing first-hand the destruction wreaked by these weapons in Palestine and her motivations for doing all that she can to stop arms sales brought tears to many eyes. She told the court of her experiences driving an ambulance of medical supplies to Gaza after the Israeli bombing.
“’I saw kids my grandchildren’s age being teargassed on a daily basis’ she said. ‘I saw with my own eyes the aftermath of war. Standing in the wreckage of bombed out homes, schools and hospitals brought home to me the utter destruction war wreaks on people’s lives. That strengthened my resolve to do everything in my power to oppose this awful trade’.”
Brutal physical violence and insidious legal intimidation are being used by UK police to try and crush resistance to the fracking industry.
This is the stark conclusion of a new report from police monitoring group Netpol, called Protecting the Planet is Not a Crime. Its research confirms and usefully exposes the extent to which the police act as taxpayer-funded private security for private business interests – in this case oil and gas.
It says: “Over the course of 2017, Netpol has seen evidence, particularly from Lancashire, of police officers pushing people into hedges, knocking campaigners unconscious, violently dragging older people across the road and shoving others into speeding traffic.
“We had also heard about the targeting of disabled protesters (including repeatedly tipping a wheelchair user from his chair) and officers using painful pressure point restraint techniques. In Lancashire, campaigners have repeatedly accused the police of ignoring violent and unlawful actions by private security employed by the shale gas company Cuadrilla. Similar allegations are now emerging in North Yorkshire.
“These confrontational and aggressive tactics are combined with often significant numbers of officers who seem, based on the testimony we have heard, ready to contain, assault or arrest any demonstrator for the slightest infringement.
“Police tactics appear deliberately intent on making it as difficult as possible for local people to effectively oppose the activities of the onshore oil and gas industry. There have also been claims that officers have tried to deliberately provoke the protesters in order to make more arrests.”
Netpol also draw attention to the civil injunction taken out against protesters by shale gas company INEOS.
The firm says it was advised to do this by the police – again showing that the cops are not “neutral” upholders of the peace, but active participants in imposing the toxic industrial capitalist agenda.
The order is directed against “persons unknown” and prohibits them from interfering with the “lawful activities” of INEOS staff and contractors. People who breach the order risk prison or having their assets seized.
The injunction refers to a range of “unlawful activity” that is not necessarily a criminal offence. Specifically, it mentions “slow walking” of lorries, which is not inherently unlawful unless it involves unreasonable obstruction without lawful authority or excuse.
Say Netpol: “Our concern is that, if INEOS’ injunction is made permanent, it not only opens in further pre-emptive injunctions by other fracking companies based on widespread smearing of all anti-fracking campaigners as ‘militant extremists’. It may also significantly restrict even further the ability of campaigners to take part in civil disobedience or, indeed, any form of effective protest”.
* In the early hours of Thursday November 30, frack-free activists occupied the so-called “Gatwick Gusher” oil site at Horse Hill in Surrey. The site, operated by Horse Hill Developments Ltd, has received planning permission for a further two wells and testing, reports Drill or Drop.
Imagine, if you can, that you are the chief of the secret political police in some far-off and fictional dictatorship.
Your networks have succeeded in completely infiltrating the small groups of dissidents who dare challenge the corruption and repression of the ruling elite.
True, there has been a spot of bother with one group of trouble-makers who rumbled a couple of clumsy low-level spies and have been exposing their dubious methods.
But overall, this has changed nothing. Indeed, the paranoia created by the spy revelations has even helped your task, instilling a mood of back-biting suspicion in dissident ranks and paralysing many would-be revolutionaries into inaction with the spectre of past or present spies in their ranks.
You have your enemies pretty much where you want them. You know exactly who they are and what they are going to do next. Your infiltrators, on many levels, have successfully shunted dissident networks away from effective opposition to the system into ineffective and dead-end ways of thinking and acting.
Dissidents whose words and deeds pose a real threat to the dictatorship are systematically marginalised and excluded from a movement which is largely under your control.
And yet, despite all this dominance, you are tempted to take it a step further. You can see that, with just a little provocation and encouragement, certain political disagreements within the opposition movement could be heightened to the point at which there was a major rupture in the dissident ranks which could even close down one of their most successful organising focal points.
In doing so, you could even take a passing swipe at one of those pesky troublemakers who has been giving you grief over your spies.
Would you do it, if you were this imaginary spy chief? Would you deliberately sabotage the dissident milieu you are paid to suppress, evil genius that you are?
While you’re thinking about it, let’s turn to some completely different events which have unfolded in the non-fictional world of 21st century Britain.
As readers may well be aware, the annual London Anarchist Bookfair in October was disrupted by a nasty row between some feminists and some others who accused them of transphobia.
We won’t pass judgement on the details of the dispute itself: an ill-judged leaflet matched by an ill-judged physical response.
But what was truly alarming was the vitriolic nature and tone of the accusations against the bookfair organisers who have done such a great job with the event over the years.
In an open letter stating their case, these critics accused the organisers of allowing “racist imperialism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, misogyny and ableism to ingratiate themselves as part of the culture of the Bookfair”.
Eh? Where did that come from? What imperialism? What anti-semitism? What Islamophobia? What misogyny? No indication is given as to what any of this refers to – the insults are just vomited forth without any context.
The authors declare that unless certain demands are met, they will not be participating in future bookfairs, which is of course their right.
But, incredibly, they add: “Further, we will encourage our members and associated groups to picket the LABF in the future and provide material to those attending about the problems we have identified and the demands we are making”.
Are there really anarchists out there who would picket the anarchist bookfair on the basis of this kind of disagreement?
This open letter was supported by many comrades who we would have thought would have known better, pretty much obliging the bookfair collective to announce that they would not be organising an event in 2018.
They say in their own statement: “What hurts us most is we know a lot of you. A number of the signatories to the open letter are groups we know and have worked with over the years; sometimes many, many years.
“Yet not one of you has tried to contact us as individuals or as the Bookfair collective to ask our views before you signed the open letter, even though some people appear not to have read all of it before signing. We thought of many of you as friends. We were obviously wrong.
“We guess it’s easy to sign a statement. It’s a lot harder to actually talk to people and try to work things out.
“We are also tired of being told what to do. We are told to ban people. We are told have this or that policy. We are told this or that group can/can’t have stalls. We are told we shouldn’t have a certain venue. We are constantly told we get it wrong. However, no one has offered to join the Collective and help us make the Bookfair better or offered to take it on”.
They also reveal that (with sickening inevitability) they were accused of being “fascists” by some so-called comrades on the day (as were, apparently, both sides in the quarrel).
They comment: “It seriously concerns us how easy this terminology is thrown about in the anarchist milieu. Survivors of the Spanish Civil war, survivors of the death camps, political activists in Pinochet’s Chile, activists in parts of the world today and many others who have been at the blunt end of actual fascism are done a disservice by this indiscriminate use of the word.
“We feel that the Bookfair is not the place for tactics used on demos against fascist groups and cops. Some of us are traumatised enough by activism and look forward to enjoying an event where we can see friends and exchange ideas without the pressure of these actions”.
And there have been other voices challenging the basis of the vitriolic attack on the bookfair by the open letter authors.
Some “friends of the Bookfair”, for instance, posted a response in which they point out that the demands in the letter amount essentially to a call for tight ideological control over the content of the bookfair – something which should set the alarm bells ringing for any remaining authentic anarchists out there.
The “friends” say: “The Bookfair Collective operates on the principle that it is not for the small collective that organises it to take on defining and enforcing a rigid policy on safety and behaviour; it is for the wider movement that takes part in the Bookfair to do so, along anarchist principles of opposing centralized authority with dispersed and grassroots responsibility.
“Points raised in the open letter call for a radically different event, with a much more centralized program, organized or tightly overseen by the collective.”
Another anarchist response on the 325 website reflects on “the harassment and public shaming of an individual simply because they’d dared deviate from the party line; the line being that there is to be no doubt and certainly no criticism of any of the dominant narratives around identity politics”.
It adds: “We are not in any way surprised that liberal activists would seize on the opportunity to jump on the bandwagon, slag off anarchists, signal virtue with their impeccable ‘Ally’ credentials, and try to sabotage a major anarchist event for good.
“Neither are we surprised that people we disagree with or whose views are offensive would turn up at the Bookfair; some such groups in fact, sometimes have tables and workshop slots and their own supporters.
“We also recognise why trans people and other anarchists present would be pissed off with the leaflets, which the authors and distributors must have known were offensive and would provoke a reaction.
“What we’re angry at is our fellow anarchists, who we hold to higher standards, and it’s on this that we want to concentrate. We’re disappointed at the abandonment yet again of anarchist principles of independent and critical thought in favour of groupthink.
“We’re angry at the willingness to sacrifice plurality of ideas for policing and self-censorship. And we’re saddened at the failure to balance our antagonism with a corresponding care and comradeship, so that bullying and public humiliation reigns unchecked. Finally, we’re pissed off that anarchists feel it’s so much more important to target another anarchist with unpopular views, than to attack institutional structures of our oppression”.
The authors also draw attention to the fact that the number one target of the protest inside the event was Helen Steel, a long-term anarchist activist and one-time McLibel defendant who was subjected to intrusive state surveillance by an undercover police officer who deceived her into a two-year relationship.
They comment: “One of the most disturbing aspects of all this was the way in which people allowed rumour to spread. The T-Word, once uttered, seemed to diffuse any flicker of concern from onlookers, all independent thought going out the window. ‘Apparently she was giving out Terf leaflets’, said a few.
“As mentioned, this transpired to be false information, and when those spreading the rumours were asked whether they had seen the texts for themselves, none of them had actually done so. When challenged, one person brushed it off by saying there was no smoke without fire, as if people were incapable of making mistakes.
“This sentiment also reveals ignorance of the long history of state agents using divide and rule tactics against dissidents – from COINTELPRO, to Stasi ops – and the fact that HS has herself been a target for state deception and manipulation”.
Eco-activists protecting the Hambacher Forest near Aachen in Germany have won a little time in their battle to protect the area from open coal mining. After cops started to try and shift protesters, using pepper spray, and clear-cutting began, work was halted again on November 28 by a court pending further deliberations from the regional parliament.
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Legendary US environmental activist Katie Lee has died at the age of 98. She was best known for her fierce opposition to the Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona. She felt it was a crime against nature, humanity and history: “The way I describe it is an aneurism, an aneurism. It’s a stoppage of the blood in the body, and that’s what they’re doing to our rivers with these dams, what we’re doing to our planet, I mean, you cut off all the blood in your body, you die. You cut off all our rivers and we’re gonna be out of here. We can’t survive without them”.
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“The world of undercover policing, informers and corporate spies is by its very nature murky. It is populated by professionals who go to great lengths to hide their activities, and to build cover”, warns a pamphlet on police infiltration from undercoverresearch.net. As evidence of these infiltrators and their activities continues to emerge, dissidents would do well to have a good careful read of Was My Friend A Spycop?…
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The next Anarchist Action Network meeting is being staged on Sunday 10th December, from 1pm to 3pm, at 11 Ferry Rd, Shoreham-By-Sea, West Sussex, BN43 5RA. The AAN is an autonomous network made up of local groups and individuals from the anarchist movement based in the UK. All are welcome, except for cops pretending to be anarchists!
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Scientists have called for an urgent ban on killer robots, with technology now existing to create autonomous weapons that can select and kill human targets without supervision. Campaigner Noel Sharkey, the emeritus professor of AI at Sheffield University and chair of the International Committee on Robot Arms Control, said: “We must succeed because the alternatives are too horrifying.” More info at autonomousweapons.org
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One by one, all those dystopian sci-fi nightmares are coming true. Another one comes (again!) from Facebook, which has rolled out new “proactive detection” artificial intelligence technology which “will scan all posts for patterns of suicidal thoughts, and when necessary send mental health resources to the user at risk or their friends, or contact local first-responders”. It’s all in the interests of your own “safety”, of course, and Facebook spokesman confirmed that “users cannot opt out”. You can opt out of Facebook altogether, though…
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“Madrid’s refusal to compromise, in the view of the Catalan nationalist movement, renders the push towards Catalan independence impossible to avert”, concludes a useful summary of the current situation at euroasiareview.com. We continue to support Catalan autonomy, despite our complete lack of faith in the idea of any kind of state. As we said in Acorn 37: “With its use of the whole gamut of repressive methods, from internet censorship and brutal violence to media distortion of what has been happening, the Spanish state could almost be acting out a dress rehearsal of clamp-downs on disobedient populations elsewhere. If the authorities can get away with it in Barcelona and Catalonia, with their proud revolutionary spirit and sense of community, they might conclude they could get away with it anywhere.”
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“Anarchy is a word we use to describe those moments when force cannot subdue us, and life flourishes as we know it should”. So declares Fighting for Our Lives, an anarchist primer produced by US comrades Crimethinc some 15 years ago and now, happily, available online. So-called anarchists in London and elsewhere may want to ponder its concluding words: “Then, as now, as always, the important question is—which side are you on?”
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Acorn quote: “It does not require more than a simple act of insight to realise that infinite growth of material consumption in a finite world is an impossibility”.
As anti-statists and internationalists, anarchists often have mixed feelings about movements calling for new nation states, even small ones.
But there are times when an instinctive hatred of centralised authority, and the violence with which it is imposed, completely overwhelms such ideological qualms.
Such is the case with events currently unfolding in Catalonia, where the “unauthorised” referendum staged on October 1 has been met with alarming levels of repression by the central Spanish state.
Before the event hundreds of websites were shut down, officials arrested, printing presses raided, ballot papers confiscated and media threatened.
On the day, people who turned out to vote were physically attacked by Spanish riot cops, leaving 900 injured. Videos circulating on social media showed one cop jumping from a staircase to stamp on a voter beneath, another deliberately breaking someone’s fingers one by one, others brutally bludgeoning people sitting passively in a road. Rubber bullets were fired at unarmed and largely passive crowds.
Anarchists have long known that violence is the foundation of the state and of all authority. Sometimes it remains hidden beneath the surface, but it is always there.
Declaring land “private property” and excluding people from their collective birthright is violent. Making people work for others’ profit, or else face starvation, is violent. The very idea of a police “force” is violent. A legal system which claims the right to chastise and imprison is violent.
The bottom line is that everyone knows that any attempt to defy the power of authority, no matter how peacefully, will be met with violence. Normally this remains unsaid, a kind of social subtext. But there are moments when the reality emerges in all its ugliness.
This is what is happening in Catalonia right now. Authority, with a capital A, is imposing itself against the people. You can put aside all the details of the Catalan situation, it really is as simple as that.
And for those who remain convinced that the European Union in some way represents a force for good, its complete lack of condemnation for the Spanish state should act as a wake-up call.
The EU is just a centralised version of the same violent mafia that have been running all the various nation-states of Europe for hundreds of years. It is not condemning the Spanish state because all the states that it represents reserve the right to behave in exactly the same, violent, way, wherever their authority is challenged.
To his credit, Craig Murray, a radical commentator who was once UK ambassador to Uzbekistan, has admitted on his blog that events in Catalonia had proven him mistaken in his long-time support for the EU.
He writes: “The EU reacted as if no such abuse had ever happened at all, and the world had not seen it. The institution has in fact been overrun by the right wing cronyism of the neo-liberal political class, and no longer serves the principles for which it ostensibly stands. It is become simply an instrument of elite power against the people”.
It has long been a theme of this bulletin that the system in which we live is edging ever closer to fascism, even if the 21st century form which it takes does not superficially look like the versions historically endured by Italy and Germany.
In Spain there is even some fascistic continuity. The ruling right-wing People’s Party began life in 1976 as the People’s Alliance, founded by Manuel Fraga, a former minister under dictator General Franco.
The Francoist spirit lingering in the Spanish riot police, and the nazi-saluting Spanish right-wing nationalists who support their thuggery, is plain to see.
And there are clear echoes of Catalan resistance to the central Francoist state in the grass-roots Catalan independence movement.
While corporate media coverage aims to dilute support for Catalonia by pointing to the fact that the region is wealthy, and there are right-wing as well as left-wing independence parties, the current repression has pushed the Catalan struggle well into left-wing libertarian territory.
In an informative interview with Jacobin Magazine, Lluc Salellas of the Catalan anti-capitalist party Candidatura d’Unitat Popular (CUP) pointed out that the clamp-down on Catalan autonomy has a social as well as a centralist dimension.
Salellas said: “The last fifteen laws we have passed in the Catalan parliament have been banned by the Spanish state. But these are not independentist laws — many of them are social laws: for example, a law about sanctuary for those fleeing persecution, a law banning energy companies from turning off people’s electricity, and a law for a higher minimum wage.
“We want to use our autonomy to improve people’s lives and we are forbidden. People see this and respond. They want to decide the future of Catalonia and that is not possible in the current arrangement.
“The movement has already moved to the Left — the laws I mentioned earlier were a sign of that, they were social measures supported even by the center-right. The streets have an idea of something new in Catalonia, something bottom-up.”
Salellas was speaking on October 3, the day of a general strike called in response to Spanish central repression. It was a strike in which anarchist unions took a leading role.
He commented: “Today we have seen the biggest general strike in the history of Catalonia. It was supported by the Catalan trade union movement, all of the pro-independence parties, and other left groups such as Podemos’s regional affiliate and Barcelona en Comú.
“There was a very widespread stoppage: almost everything closed from small shops to public institutions and transport. In total, more than fifty roads were blocked, which has significantly disrupted the transport of goods. It wasn’t just in Barcelona, either. In Girona, one of the regional capitals, there was a demonstration of 50,000. The city’s population is only 100,000, so it will be the biggest protest in the city’s history.”
And he placed the repression used by the Spanish state in a wider context. He said the Catalans’ battle was an important moment for Europe. “If we don’t win it, the idea that governments can meet democratic expressions with violence will spread. This weekend it was Catalonia, but it won’t end here. We could see it normalized across Europe.”
This is an important point. With its use of the whole gamut of repressive methods, from internet censorship and brutal violence to media distortion of what has been happening, the Spanish state could almost be acting out a dress rehearsal of clamp-downs on disobedient populations elsewhere.
If the authorities can get away with it in Barcelona and Catalonia, with their proud revolutionary spirit and sense of community, they might conclude they could get away with it anywhere.
In this context, the days and weeks ahead in Catalonia may well prove decisive for all of us. Solidarity is badly needed, rather than ideological hand-wringing about the dangers of expressing solidarity even with left-wing forms of nationalism (when was that ever a problem regarding Kurdistan, for instance?).
The massive crowds on the streets of Barcelona, Girona and elsewhere, along with the brutal and panicky state reaction, are increasingly conjuring up memories of the Arab Spring of 2011.
Who knows where this will lead? The Spanish state, via its courts, has already suspended the session of the Catalan Parliament at which it was expected to declare independence in the wake of the”yes” vote.
Salellas suggests: “The Spanish state will probably try to use Article 155 of the constitution to definitively end our autonomy. They may also arrest the Catalan president, as well as other political figures.
“If this happens, the streets will rise up and we will have a major confrontation. The independence movement has a lot of people — I estimate up to a million — ready to be very active in this campaign over a long period of time. It won’t be easy for the Spanish state to repress a movement of that size.”
Less than six months after Emmanuel Macron was elected president of France, the streets are filling up with people opposing his so-called labour “reforms”, which are blatantly aimed at removing workers’ rights in the interests of business profits.
When the campaign against his “Loi Travail XXL” got underway on September 12, half a million people protested in 200 towns and cities.
The French police continued to use the heavy-handed approach that was deployed against the 2016 revolt against the original Loi Travail.
In Lyons, for instance, part of the demo was kettled right at the start and it was only because the rest of the protesters refused to move on, and stayed put for two hours, that they were eventually released.
An interesting twist was the involvement of France’s travelling funfair community, who used their lorries to block motorways in solidarity with the strikes and protests.
The next big date is Tuesday October 10, when a general strike is planned.
France seems in some ways to be at the point the UK had reached in 1984, when Europe’s first neoliberal state, under Thatcher, deliberately took on and defeated the miners in order to break the resistance of the trade union movement.
As in the UK in those days , the neoliberals are making a calculated bet on the physical supremacy of their power.
They are happy to use the full legal force of their system to crush dissent, the full physical force of their police and military to attack dissidents, the full psychological force of their tame media to conceal what is happening, to spread lies and disinformation, to smear their opponents.
If we are audacious enough to deploy all of this against our enemies, the authorities seem to be saying to themselves, what can anybody actually do about it? How do our opponents even imagine they could stop us, unless it is by bringing the whole system crashing down?
The very same thought is at the same time, of course, also occurring to the dissidents…
We had some positive feedback from comrades regarding our article in Acorn 36 about the failings of a so-called anti-capitalist movement which thinks it is “on the knife’s edge” of acceptability to actually oppose capitalism and all its assumptions.
So we thought we would clarify our position with a full bullet points pointing to the sort of movement we would like to be part of. Regular readers will spot that there is nothing new here! These are the arguments we have been making again and again in this bulletin, in the daily quotes we tweet out and in the books we publish.
We need to declare all-out war on the system we conveniently label “capitalism”. This must take place on a practical level, on a political level and on a philosophical level.
Crucially, we need to challenge the very foundations of that power. We need to entirely reject all the layers of fake justification for the “authority” that underlies the state and its legal system.
We need to reject all claims for “ownership” of land and insist that the land belongs to all (including non-humans) and has been stolen from us.
We must take care not to accept the “morality” of the system – not to confuse legal and illegal with right or wrong, not to fall into the trap of playing by its own self-serving rules.
We need to expose all the “legitimate” force with which the system imposes its “authority”, “law” and “property” as nothing but brute violence, dressed up in wigs, uniforms and fancy language.
We have got to rid ourselves of the ultraliberalism which has been infecting the anarchist movement. Its reformist individualism and fetishization of “non-violence” and “safety” has nothing to do with our struggle. Our aim is not to make the current system nicer, but to do away with it.
We have to be clear that industrial society has been created by capitalism and is inseparable from capitalism. To protect the world from total environmental disaster, we have to destroy capitalism, along with all its assumptions and infrastructures.
We are heretics and as such we will reject all dogmas, religious or political, which preach obedience or submission to power.
We must reject patriarchy and its domination of our cultures. We must understand its links to militarism and industrialism, its fetishization of quantity, size, speed and violence.
We need to nurture a dynamic and determined revolutionary spirit. The self-important sterility and cynicism of Academia undermines our struggles.
We must remain inspired by a positive vision of the anarchist society that we know is possible. Nihilism and defeatism motivate nobody.
We need to strongly oppose imperialism in all its forms. We must not be put off by spurious claims that anti-imperialism necessarily equals disguised nationalism. Self-determination and decentralisation are part of our internationalist struggle, from Kurdistan and Palestine to West Papua and Catalonia.
We must not be afraid of naming the USA as the primary bulwark of the system we oppose or of identifying its key allies, such as the UK, Germany, France or Israel. We should not be swayed by sly ideological memes suggesting that opposition to US imperialism implies support for other regimes or that criticism of the Israeli state amounts to antisemitism.
We should actively expose the machinations of the military-industrial complex and not be frightened away from doing so by “conspiracy theorist” smears designed to deter investigative criticism. At the same time we should (obviously) avoid falling into a reductionist conspiracy mindset or spreading toxic right-wing analyses
The contemporary “left” is giving free rein to fascist ideologists by shying away from a deep rejection of industrial capitalism and its world.
That is the warning in a thoughtful two-part article by Rhyd Wildermuth on the Gods & Radicals website.
He describes “a deep and intentional blindness particularly within American anti-fascist and ‘leftist’ thought, the product both of a marriage to Liberal Democratic hegemony and an almost ecstatic abdication of revolutionary territory”.
Looking back to the big anti-capitalist/anti-globalisation movement of the 1990s, he notes that the politics that lay behind it have all but disappeared from the US and UK radical left’s thinking, leaving nationalists and fascists able to pose as the main opponents of the global capitalist system.
Wildermuth writes: “Partially due to the all-too conveniently-timed ‘war on terror’ and systematic counter-revolutionary actions, the mass mobilizations of the anti-globalisation movement are long-gone, and few of the critiques remain in the political platforms of any leftist or liberal movement in the United States or the United Kingdom.
“However, the damage done did not simply disappear when there was no movement to fight it, and much of the current political turmoil in which we find ourselves now is a consequence both of globalisation and the left’s abandonment of that fight.”
Condemning the reformism of the so-called Left, he says: “Mass movements such as Black Lives Matter, Occupy, and the mobilizations against Trump and white supremacy expend extraordinary effort to avoid direct criticism of Liberal Democracy, contorting themselves into almost absurd positions.”
He adds: “The Left mistakes anti-modernism as fascist only because it has drunk the bloody offerings at Capitalism’s altars of progress”.
When we think about fascism, our main reference point tends to be the regimes which took control of Italy and Germany in the first half of the 20th century.
But it is now 95 years since Benito Mussolini came to power and the sort of fascism we encounter today is an updated version.
Contemporary fascists, for instance, seem to have dropped the shallow pretence of being “socialists” or “workers” which helped Adolf Hitler’s Nazis win mass support in the 1930s.
Antisemitism no longer seems to be a necessary ingredient in the toxic fascist recipe, either, with hatred of Muslims often replacing (or at least eclipsing) hatred of Jews.
Some extreme-right wing groups are also positively pro-Israel and there is growing evidence of a previously unthinkable connection between fascists and right-wing Zionists.
Writing about his country’s “flirtation with Europe’s extreme right”, Israeli journalist Meron Rapoport identifies anti-Muslim sentiment as the key factor.
Israel has long been concerned about European sympathy for the Palestinian struggle and support for the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement which aims to hit the Israeli economy.
In this context, any increase in anti-Muslim feeling in Europe “is seen as good sign in Israel” explains Rapoport.
He adds: “If Europe would just see the importance of the ‘Muslim danger’, goes this line of thinking, then it would also understand – and be grateful for – Israel’s pivotal role in the war against ‘radical Islam’. Through this common enemy, Israel could be relieved from its isolation.”
In the UK, the English Defence League was notorious for its support for Israel and its brandishing of Israeli flags on protests.
It appears that there is a similar phenomenon within Alternative for Germany (AfD), the 21st century face of the German far right. We are seeing, as Ali Abunimah points out, “a newly invigorated alliance between far-right, traditionally anti-Semitic forces on the one hand, and Israel and Zionists on the other”.
The Times of Israelconfirms that “like many far-right parties in Europe and elsewhere, the AfD presents itself as staunchly supportive of Israel”.
It says that according to a wide-ranging poll commissioned by a group promoting German-Israeli relations, most AfD politicians profess to care deeply about Israel’s security, support Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s demand that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, reject unilaterally recognizing a Palestinian state, and generally support a stronger relationship between Jerusalem and Berlin.
Over half of the AfD respondents said they “totally” agreed with the statement that support for BDS was antisemitic; no other major party had such a strong opposition to BDS.
Beatrix von Storch, deputy leader of Alternative for Germany (AfD) even gave an interview with The Jerusalem Post in which she made a telling connection between her party’s views on Muslims and the Israeli state’s stance regarding Palestinians.
She said: “Israel could be a role model for Germany. Israel is a democracy that has a free and pluralistic society. Israel also makes efforts to preserve its unique culture and traditions.”
Indeed, an article in The Intercept by Lee Fang reveals that the AfD’s electoral success was fuelled by “news” stories from right-wing US pro-Israel organisation the Gatestone Institute.
We wrote about the Gatestone Institute in Acorn 20 when we pointed out that Baroness Cox, notorious for stoking resentment against Muslims, was on its board.
We added that she was also co-president of an organisation called Jerusalem Summit, which says on its website that the idea of a Palestinian state must be “removed from the international agenda”.
Significantly, it states that “the de-legitimization of the Palestinian narrative becomes a vital prerequisite to any comprehensive resolution of the Palestinian issue”.
Are Cox, the AdF and others playing their part in this scheme by demonising Muslims in Europe so that Europeans identify with Israelis against their Palestinian “Muslim threat”?
Israel’s apparent desire to stoke up anti-Muslim feeling inevitably puts it at loggerheads with the European left, which is fiercely opposed to racism, supportive of immigrants and, often, critical of Israeli treatment of Palestinians.
Right-wing Spanish politician Juan Carlos Girauta understood this when he wrote a recent article for TheJerusalem Post urging Israelis to oppose the Catalan independence struggle and support the fascistic repression carried out by the Spanish state (see above).
He admitted that traditionally Catalonia has always been seen as friendly territory for Jewish people. “It is well-known that historically moderate Catalanism was sympathetic to Israel and generally pro-Jewish. A lot of Catalonian Jews voted and supported those regionalist parties.
“However, the political landscape abruptly changed, and the public face of the pro-Israel movement in Catalonia is radical nationalists who use the Israel cause as a vehicle and excuse to promote their own local interests, even at the expense of Israel’s.
“Furthermore, as moderates lost prominence, the independence movement is led by violent radicals who are as anti-Israel as they are anti-Spanish. They are members of BDS-supporting parties like those that have approved boycotts against Israel in many of Catalonia’s cities or invited infamous terrorist Leila Khaled to speak at a Barcelona City Council-sponsored event.
“An independent Catalonia would be in the hands of extreme anti-Israel groups. In contrast, the constitutionalist camp is solidly pro-Israel.”
Like 21st century fascism as a whole, it would seem.
The use of physical violence to impose elite business interests is very evident in England at the moment in the attempt to force fracking on an increasingly hostile population. While Scotland moved to ban fracking, opponents south of the border in Kirby Misperton and Preston New Road have endured constant police assaults and intimidation. The “law” always forms a key part of the system’s violence and, in a worrying development, INEOS, a manufacturer of chemicals involved in fracking, has been granted an injunction seriously limiting protest against its activities. Campaigners have launched a crowdfunder to pay for a legal challenge, targeting £15,000 by October 11. At the time of writing it had reached £7,300.
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Yet another wake-up call for all those who think that industrial capitalism is not really a problem… A new study has discovered that plastic fibres are present in tap water around the world. “Tests show billions of people globally are drinking water contaminated by plastic particles, with 83% of samples found to be polluted”. Still, never mind. Carry on regardless, eh? Business as usual.
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“The modern consumer culture was born – not as a response to innate human greed or customer demand, but to the needs of industrial capital.” So writes Steven Gorelick in an excellent article on the Local Futures website. He concludes: “The global consumer culture is not only the engine of climate change, species die-off, ocean dead zones, and many other assaults on the biosphere, it ultimately fails to meet real human needs. It’s time to envision – and take steps to create – an economy that doesn’t destroy people and the planet just to satisfy the growth imperatives of global capital.”
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Campaigners taking on the coal industry in Australia, in the shape of the Adani group, are holding a big day of symbolic action on Saturday October 7. They say: “If we want to move beyond coal, we’re going to have to spell out #StopAdani to our politicians. That’s why we’re asking you to join forces in creating human signs so big that they can’t be ignored, at iconic locations across Australia!”
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When we reported in Acorn 36 about an American firm that was implanting its workers with microchips, some readers may have felt that this vastly repulsive idea would never take off. But one obliging corporate journalist was quick to jump on to the microchip bandwagon. Writing in The Guardian, Olivia Solon described having an implant and enthused about all the marvellous advantages it offers. The only possible opposition to the Brave New World of Microchipped Humanity, it seems, might come from “some fundamentalist Christians”.
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The full programme for the London Anarchist Bookfair on Saturday October 28 (see report in Acorn 36) has now been published and so we can update readers about our two Winter Oak workshops. Ed Lord will be talking about his book Modern Madness from 12 noon to 1pm in room LG5 and Paul Cudenec will be presenting his book The Green One from 3pm to 4pm in Room F7. We will also have a stall. The event runs at Park View School. West Green Road, London, N15 3QR, from 10am to 7pm.
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Acorn quote: “Socialists cannot avoid the struggle against land ownership. The struggle for socialism is a struggle for the land; the social question is an agrarian question. Now it can be seen what an enormous mistake the Marxists’ theory of the proletariat is. If the revolution came today, no stratum of the population would have less idea of what to do than our industrial proletarians”.
On Sunday August 27 crowds of people enjoying a day on the beach at Birling Gap near Eastbourne, East Sussex, suddenly started coughing and spluttering, and rubbing their eyes, before fleeing the coast en masse.
They had fallen victim to a cloud of chemical gas, later identified as chlorine, which had drifted onto the southern English coast from the Channel. Some 150 people were treated in hospital in what was described by emergency services as “a major incident“.
The mainstream media reaction to this nightmarish episode was predictably understated and narrow, restricting itself to speculation as to where the poison gas may have specifically come from – Rotterdam, maybe, or northern France, or a ship in the Channel, or an old wreck.
With the honourable exception of the local Friends of the Earth, nobody was interested in the bigger picture.
Meanwhile, in the USA, Hurricane Harvey resulted in Houston’s petrochemical industry leaking thousands of tons of pollutants, with communities living near plants damaged by the storm exposed to soaring levels of toxic fumes and potential water contamination.
The plain truth about both instances of environmental poisoning is, of course, that they are products of the industrial capitalist system.
This is the same system which, as revealed by a new report, has produced 8.3bn tonnes of plastic since the 1950s, polluting the world’s continents and oceans and threatening a “near permanent contamination of the natural environment”.
This is the same system which has destroyed 80 per cent of the Earth’s natural forests, which is wiping out our fellow species by dozens every single day, with as many as 30 to 50 per cent of all species heading towards extinction by 2050.
And if we are looking for a way of ensuring that incidents like the ones at Eastbourne and Houston never happen again, if we want to avoid all the pollution and extinction, the only meaningful approach is to work for the dismantling or destruction of the industrial system.
Why is this so hard for so many people to understand or to accept? Why, even among radical critics of capitalist society, is there so much reluctance to contemplate the loss of its toxic infrastructures?
People often talk about their attachment to the “little luxuries” in life that come hand in hand with industrialism. But is the ability to watch videos or play electronic games at any time and any place they fancy really more important than the ability to sit in the open air without being assaulted by drifting clouds of chemicals?
Is the personal convenience provided by a washing machine or a car really so important that future generations might not be able to walk outside without an oxygen mask?
Are all the temporary, shallow, egotistic pleasures of modern Western existence really worth more than the continuing organic well-being of our precious world?
Clearly not – and so why does this realisation not translate into a political perspective that embraces the end of the industrial capitalist era as an overwhelming priority for us all?
The West’s current incarnation as Industrial Capitalism poses a severe and unprecedented threat to the health and wellbeing of the living planet in general and the human species in particular.
The very basis of this system is the so-called need for permanent “economic growth”, involving a theoretically endless increase in the exploitation of people and nature that, logically, can only end in disaster.
This system justifies and defends itself by means of a mesh of oppressive constructs such as “property”, “law” and “nation”, which today largely go unchallenged, even by critics of capitalism’s worse excesses.
General acceptance of these constructs serves to camouflage and legitimize the violence used by the system to impose its control. It thereby helps to criminalize any resistance to this oppressive violence.
In the Mexican revolution of the early part of the 20th century, the Zapatistas had a slogan: “It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.”
In the West, the pervasive attitude is currently one of ignorance, fear, and slothful privilege, wherein the suffering caused by Western institutions in far-off lands is not of consequence to the people who are causing it through an unquenchable lust for cheap consumer goods.
Few of the beneficiaries are even aware it is happening, and most wouldn’t care if they knew. If told that wireless technology is causing genocide in central Africa, most Western consumers would likely reply “I like my cell phone.” Or their X-box, or their internet-connected refrigerator.
Western consumers have decided that it is – indeed! – much better to live in ignorance and servitude to corporatized, military police states, and to hell with the consequences, rather than do anything to stop campaigns of genocide beyond their field of vision. The products of privilege produced in the process are precious to them, not human lives, or a living planet.
If the society produced in Europe through centuries of bloody violence and subsequently unleashed to ravage the entire planet can be thought of as “civilization,” an intelligent human being can only conclude that this civilization is something which must be eradicated so thoroughly as to never again be obtainable.
If this does not happen, and soon, our planet will become uninhabitable, and life as we know it no longer possible. Something new will evolve in the toxic, ruined wastelands the West creates everywhere. It will not likely be compatible with living things that have been predominant for the past few million years.
When our comrades over at Antidote Zine decided to repost the full text of Envisioning a Post-Western World (see above), they did so with the following introduction:
“In light of recentdiscussions among antifascists (including here within the Antidote Writers Collective) about an esoteric but significant kind of red-brown convergence—the potential for fascist counter-recruiting on the more nihilistic, misanthropic fringes of deep green, Euro-pagan, and Malthusian eco-anarchist groups—we recognize that some of the arguments put forward in the article that follows are right on the knife’s edge.
“We present them nonetheless for two reasons: firstly, of course, these ideas are out there whether we like it or not and warrant critical attention; and second, if spaces—both physical and ideological—are vulnerable to fascist counter-recruiting, this implies an overlap where antifascist counter-recruiting could (and should) be happening as well. In other words (indeed the words of Magpie Killjoy elsewhere in these pages), it behooves people in contested cultural terrain to, well, contest it.”
It was a little odd to have cited nihilism regarding an article which specifically declares that “our desire for the destruction of the current system is not nihilistic in motivation, but is born of a yearning for another way of living”.
Likewise, neither of the two authors of the original piece sees any misanthropy, Malthusianism or specifically “Euro-” paganism in their joint article.
The problem seems to be that anarchists today are forever looking over their shoulders to see if they are being watched by what is essentially an internal Thought Police, self-appointed custodians of a flattened-out and narrowed-in version of anarchism.
Seemingly born in the cloisters of Academia, this strange hybrid of ultra-liberalism and reformist post-Marxism is more interested in language than reality. It delights in over-complicating issues, in spreading the notion that cynical sophistication is superior to passionate simplicity. It very much dislikes any clear or direct physical or intellectual confrontation with the current order.
It is a fairly fluid entity, which varies in emphasis from context to context. But we can say that it generally does not approve of opposing US imperialism, of defending Palestinian rights, of protesting against capitalist summits, of Black Bloc tactics, of exposing the covert machinations of the military industrial complex, of talking about the “one per cent” or the “banksters”, of challenging the capitalist cult of technology, of using any kind of “populist” language that might actually inspire people to take to the streets in rebellion.
For instance, a reflection on the protests against the G20 in Hamburg in July, written by the “Gruppe Internationaler SozialistInnen” and reproduced in translation on the Libcom website, pours scorn on anti-capitalist enthusiasm around riots which broke out in the city’s Schanzenviertel during the mobilisation (see below).
It drones on boringly about “the intellectual failure of the so-called ‘autonomists’ to even begin to distinguish between the simple breaking of glass and the expropriation and socialisation of the means of production and consumption through the action of the proletarianised”.
It also complains: “The riots may have been ignited by anger over the police, but they quickly took on the dynamic of a content-free event-riot, participated in by party-goers, unpolitical youth and, according to rumours which must be taken seriously, even Nazi hooligans.”
This last little snipe is interesting, as it is a common feature of these kinds of critiques that they usually claim that out-and-out anti-capitalism represents some kind of “slippery slope” towards a new kind of fascism, or the famous and yet elusive “red-brown convergence” referred to by Antidote.
In France, these techniques have been used by “journalist” Ornella Guyet on her (happily now defunct) site confusionnisme.info to lump together everyone from environmentalists of the décroissance movement to Nuit Debout, Noam Chomsky and Jeremy Corbyn as “confusionist”, anti-semitic or somehow otherwise dangerously close to a mystifyingly broad redefinition of “fascism”.
Exposing her activities, the left-wing website Le Grand Soir concludes that she is “an opportunist in thrall to the neocolonial and ultra-liberal system”. It adds: “Ornella Guyet claims to be ‘left-wing’, but her work proves the opposite.” It says she uses the cover of anti-fascism to attack genuine opponents of the capitalist system. “In this sense she is the perfect example of the Fake Antifa, a guard dog of power”.
The UK has its own fake leftists in the Ornella Guyet mould, as discussed in Acorn 19. In that article we concluded that there seemed to be “a network of journalists and academics actively working to steer the ‘Left’ away from any criticism of the USA and the capitalist system it dominates”.
The influence of this Fake Left is such that genuine anarchists and anti-capitalists are now self-censoring to avoid falling victim to their ideological smear campaigns.
We are edging towards a situation where the only “acceptable” form of opposition to the system is irrelevantly academic and reformist.
A pedantic and humourless ideological puritanism, masquerading as radicalism, limits itself to calling for the system to be made fairer, more inclusive or more democratic and is suspicious of anyone who dares to challenge the fundamental assumptions of power.
Apparently forgotten is the urgent and inspiring anarchist demand for capitalism to be wiped from history to pave the way for a completely different way of living.
If drawing attention to this means we are regarded in some quarters as being on the “knife’s edge” of acceptability, then so be it.
As our friends at Antidote point out, “it behooves people in contested cultural terrain to, well, contest it”.
As we predicted (in Acorns 29 and 35), the protests against the G20 in Hamburg in July were powerful and significant, both in terms of anti-capitalist resistance and in terms of the kind of repressive policing we are likely to be facing in the rebellious years ahead.
A very full and excellent English-language report was posted by our US comrades at Crimethinc and rather than producing our own inferior version, we thought we’d just copy and paste a few sections of their long article to give our readers a taste of what went on. The Crimethinc report and analysis can be seen in full here.
State violence and popular resistance
The 2017 G20 summit provoked the most intense clashes in Germany yet this century. This is an epic story of state violence and popular resistance on a scale rarely witnessed in the US and northern Europe.
The police attempted to use brute force to isolate and terrorize all who came to demonstrate against the G20, but in the process, they turned a large part of the population against them and the city spiraled out of control.
The police strategy underscores how central old-fashioned coercive violence is to the power of the G20 leaders; yet once again, we saw that a determined populace can outmaneuver even the best-trained and best-equipped police.
If 20,000 fully militarized officers using everything short of lethal force can’t maintain order at the most important security event of the year in Europe’s richest nation, perhaps it is possible to imagine revolution on the horizon after all.
The Courage of the Black Bloc
Imagine the scene: you are in the front lines of the Welcome to Hell black bloc. You and your friends decided to be here months in advance, to ensure that the front of the bloc would be populated by reliable people. You knew from the beginning that you would be walking into a nightmare. Still, your commitment to your comrades and to the movement outweighs fear for your personal safety; you have chosen to be here, come injury or prison, out of love of humanity and desire for a better future. Unlike the police, you have no protective gear, you are not receiving a salary, and you are not following orders.
St. Pauli Fischmarkt forms a sort of canyon here, where it drops beneath the level of the other streets—but for you, facing an impenetrable wall of police, it feels more like an arena. The railings above you are packed with viewers. They throng the pedestrian walkway that passes overhead and the hill of the park to the north; they are even gathered on the rooftops of the tall apartment buildings beyond the park. Standing there below them, you can’t help resenting those spectators passively watching from the safety of their terraces. Ahead, you can make out one—two—three—at least four water cannons and some armored cars behind them. You and your companions are like gladiators trembling as the gates go up and the lions come out.
Explosions are going off behind you. They punctuate a din of screaming, shouting, and the robotic voice of police announcements over the loudspeaker. From your vantage point, you can’t see what is going on back there, where the police are carrying out charge after charge against the back of the bloc as demonstrators struggle to hold them off with a volley of bottles and debris. You can only smell the tear gas in the air and hear the sound of detonations and shattering glass. A canister explodes in front of you, enveloping you in smoke. When the smoke clears for a moment, you see that the ranks of the bloc behind you are thinning—fearful of being trapped and brutalized, demonstrators have formed a human pyramid to escape by climbing up the wall to the south.
At this moment, the riot police ahead of you charge, forming a wall all the way around the bloc stretching from the front to the northern side. There are perhaps fifty of you left in the front now, still holding up your banners as a fragile rampart against the full might of the state.
The water cannons zoom up, sirens blaring, and halt right in front of your line. There is a scene in The Fellowship of the Ring in which the orcs fall back as the mighty Balrog steps forth to attack the protagonists. In that same manner, the lines of white-helmeted riot police inch backwards as the water cannons train their barrels directly at you. Tear gas is still filling the air. The comrades behind you have fled. Deafening pandemonium. You are surrounded on three sides now, outnumbered ten to one by storm troopers clad head to toe in full body armor.
It could hardly be more terrifying if the earth cracked open and flames leapt out of the chasm. Welcome to hell, indeed.
Shortly before midnight, people gathered at Grüner Jäger once more, where barricades had been erected earlier. They threw bottles at the water cannons as they drove by. The same scene was playing out up and down the street for blocks.
Long lines of police vans kept whizzing past us on the street. Every time they passed, people would pelt them with bottles. Incredibly, the vans didn’t even stop. “This means they’ve totally lost control,” my friend from Hamburg explained. “Normally, they would never put up with that.”
A little after midnight, the police succeeded in dispersing the main body of the demonstration, but that only spread people throughout the area, where they continued fighting in smaller groups.
At about the same time, just around the corner, special forces positioned themselves in front of Rote Flora on Schulterblatt street. Clashes soon broke out here as well, and once more, the police were repeatedly forced to retreat. People erected burning barricades to keep them at bay.
All around the city, banks, luxury shops, and cars were attacked throughout the night. This occurred as far north as Osterstrasse, where several shop windows were broken. Similar damage occurred in Altona—to Sparkasse, for example.
At about 1:30 am, water cannons and a huge number of riot cops sought to disperse the crowd that had gathered at Sternbrücke. Yet clashes continued throughout the night on the smaller streets of central St. Pauli. Supposedly, 76 cops were injured in the course of the evening, although it later turned out that police had spread flagrant lies about the number of injuries they sustained. They refused to give out the numbers of injured and arrested protesters. Rescue teams were deployed 89 times, mostly to treat head injuries, broken bones, and abrasions.
Elsewhere in Hamburg, police surrounded and trapped about a hundred people by the Rondenbarg trailer park, then charged and attacked them. Some of them tried to flee over a fence 4 meters high. Shouting “Antifa swine, this is your breakfast!” the police knocked down the fence and injured 14 people, 11 of them with broken bones and other serious injuries. Some of them were still in the hospital a week later. Police announced to the media that the group had attacked them first, but videos subsequently revealed this to be an outright lie.
A decree prohibiting protests in most of Hamburg had been in effect since 6 am. Yet soon after dawn, blockades had appeared throughout the city, especially around the port, the red zone where the summit was, and the roads that G20 delegates were using. The blockaders had gathered in the metro stations at Landungsbrücken, Berliner Tor, Altona, and Hammerbrook. From there, they moved through the city in different directions, carrying out a variety of decentralized actions. Some came close enough to the location of the summit to stop delegates in their vehicles.
In the clashes at the edge of the liberated zone, someone was using one of those enormous umbrellas that cover outdoor tables at cafés as a shield to try to protect himself from the water cannon. The force of the blast kept pushing him back so he skidded along the asphalt. Then somebody else got another umbrella from the café and wedged it behind the first one. In that position, the water cannon couldn’t move them. It was just symbolic, but somehow it felt like a moral victory.
Further into Schanze, at the burning barricade, people were looting an electronics store. Someone got his hands on a massive flatscreen monitor and carried it towards the fire. Everyone else was shouting for him not to do it, that it was expensive, but he joyously heaved it into the flames. Then everyone cheered, feeling somehow lighter. Destroying commodities can be a kind of therapy that relieves us of covetousness.
For me, these scenes exemplify the inventiveness and festive atmosphere that prevail in moments like the ones we experienced in Schanze when it was free of police.
The critical mass that had gathered at 7 pm rode into Schanze around 11 pm, at the high point of the evening. Despite all the fearsome rhetoric portraying Schanze as a scene out of Breughel during the time the police were excluded from it, those who were there experienced an atmosphere of revelry and camaraderie. Many businesses were open, packed with people buying falafel or drinks. As people lined the streets, cheering at the arrival of the bicyclists, it could have been a family-friendly festival. The vast majority of participants were not anarchists or foreigners from Southern Europe, but ordinary people from Hamburg who had turned against the police over the preceding week. Outside of Schanze, even in areas where there were no anarchists, locals pulled their own trashcans into the street, forcing the police to spread themselves ever thinner over more and more territory.
Rather than imagining a faceless “general public” that disapproves of violence (except when the police enact it) and believes whatever the pundits say, let’s remember that society is comprised of countless different elements, many of whom have opinions that are never repeated on television by talking heads.
Most of the fearmongering about the resistance to the G20 is an intentional media campaign with classic talking points. It isn’t intended to reflect reality as it is, but rather to make us fearful of each other, to make it hard to imagine that there are others who want what we want. On Saturday, looking around the crowd in downtown Hamburg, it was clear that outright resistance is already popular.
Further reports from Hamburg can be found here and here.
A report on ongoing repression, including the German state’s closing-down of Linksunten Indymedia, plus info on all-important prisoner support, can be found here.
One of the annual highlights of the anarchist calendar takes place in London on Saturday October 28 in the shape of the Anarchist Bookfair.
The 2017 event will see a return appearance for Winter Oak after a brief absence. We will have a stall somewhere at the venue and two speakers are lined up.
Ed Lord will be talking on Modern Madness: Mental Health, Modernity and Environmental Destruction. The anarchist author, researcher and mental health nurse discusses his recent book Modern Madness: A Wild Schizoanalysis of Mental Distress in the Spaces of Modernitypublished by Winter Oak. The book presents a radical critique of the modern world and the pandemic levels of mental illness we find there. Drawing on experience of mental health services and environmental activism, Ed asks the question “What if mental distress is considered as much a matter of geography as it is of personal pathology?” Followed by a discussion.
And Paul Cudenec will be talking about and reading from The Green One, which we published this summer. This book presents, in mythopoetic style, a gender-transcending archetype of natural vitality and rightness which has been present throughout the history of human culture, constantly taking on new forms to reflect the needs of each era. The Green One is Mother Earth, the Green Man, Osiris, Khidr, Robin Hood, Joan of Arc, the Luddites and authentic anarchism… Followed by discussion.
Times of the meetings have not been finalised yet, but as ever there are plenty of interesting sessions being lined up, such as:
Feminism and Self-Defence: Experiences of the Kurdish women’s struggles with Dilar Dirik.
A real revolution is a mass of contradictions: Reports from Rojava 2017 with Peter Loo and Sarah Patton of Plan C.
The Russian Revolution from Below – discussion opened by Simon Pirani, author of The Russian Revolution in Retreat.
My Buddha is Punk – a film screening and Q&A with the director Andreas Hartmann.
The blockade got off to a good start on Monday September 4 with a day themed around “Stop Arming Israel”. Palestinian dancing and football matches blocked the road used by lorries bringing in equipment.
There were eight arrests as cops tried to clear a path for the warmongering profiteers, but the blockade forced the deathmongering DSEI organisers to try and sneak in their weapons through the back entrance.
On Tuesday morning, September 5, the “No Faith in War” actions saw a two-hour lock-on and reports of four arrests, including at least one Quaker.
Said Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade: “DSEI will bring many of the world’s most appalling regimes together with the biggest arms companies.
“Right now UK fighter jets and bombs are playing a central role in the destruction of Yemen; what will be the next atrocity they are used in? War, repression and injustice are fuelled by events like DSEI. It’s time to shut it down for good.”
The blocking of the set-up culminates in a big day of action on Saturday September 9.
Environmental activists have been battling to protect the last primeval forest in Europe from commercial logging. They have chained themselves to trees and blocked felling machines in Poland’s Bialowieza Forest. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site where the habitat of the European bison, lynx and rare birds is at threat from the government-approved destruction. Follow Camp for the Forest on Twitter via @DlaPuszczy
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A nasty road scheme has returned to threaten massive destruction in the last remaining block of ancient woodland on the coastal plain of Southern England. Plans for the A27 are targeting Binsted Woods, Arundel, home to a successful anti-road camp in 2003. Said West Sussex campaign group Protect Our Woodlands: “We fail to understand how anyone could support the wanton destruction that would occur in Binsted woods, or any of the Arundel A27 options Highways England (HE) has put forward. Clearly their only purpose is to create even more road space for through traffic to fill again.”
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Strikes and protests will be held all across France on Tuesday September 12 against the latest labour “reforms” being imposed on the country by neoliberal President Macron, a so-called “centrist” already deeply unpopular with the public after being elected in May. Meanwhile, the day of mobilisation against the French police state featured in Acorn 35 has been moved to Saturday October 7.
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The latest volume of Return Fire magazine is now available online and features a look at Ed Lord’s book Modern Madness (see above), an article on the impact of robotics, reports of direct action against industrial capitalist infrastructure and much more.
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A new English-language blog has been launched from the ZAD at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Zad for ever is subtitled “Dispatches from the Liberated Territory Against an Airport & its World”, which nicely sets the context. It states: “The zad’s greatest strength is its radical diversity. This blog represents just some of the multitude of visions of the zone and its forms of life.”
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A monument to the great German-Jewish anarchist Gustav Landauer has been unveiled in the Waldfriedhof, Munich. After he was murdered by proto-fascist soldiers in 1919, even Landauer’s grave was destroyed by the Nazis when they came to power in 1933.
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More great news from the front line of Progress – an American firm has started implanting its employees with microchips which allow them to open doors, use computers or buy snacks. Todd Westby, CEO of Three Square Market, a technology firm in Wisconsin, said: “It’s the next thing that’s inevitably going to happen, and we want to be a part of it. Eventually, this technology will become standardised allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities.” We can’t wait.
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A protest march in support of the UK’s “death sentence” prisoners is to be held in Manchester on Saturday September 16. As we reported in Acorn 32, some 4,000 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 dates and soaring suicide rates. The protest will start at 12:30 sharp at 12 Minshull St, Manchester M1 3FR (Probation Office).
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Acorn quote: “The modern West cannot tolerate that people should prefer to work less and be content to live on little; as it is only quantity that counts, and as everything that escapes the senses is held to be non-existent, it is taken for granted that anyone who is not in a state of agitation and who does not produce much in a material way must be ‘lazy’”.
1. “Welcome to hell!” Hamburg tells capitalist leaders
Razor wire, water cannons and snipers are being lined up to protect the leaders of the capitalist world when they descend on Hamburg at the start of July.
The authorities are deploying 20,000 police to protect Trump, Putin, Erdogan, Merkel, May, Macron et al, turning the city into “a virtual fortress” under “something close to a state of emergency”, according to German media.
Summits like these were forced out of city centres 15 years ago by massive international anti-capitalist protests, with the global elite fleeing to inaccessible rural retreats.
But those in power now seem prepared to face the possible wrath of tens of thousands of opponents by holding the 2017 G20 Summit in downtown Hamburg.
The potential is clearly there for levels of resistance that would renew the energy of militant European anti-capitalism, as The Acornpreviously pointed out back in November.
The authorities are of the same opinion. Der Spiegel’sEnglish-language website says officials are expecting up to 100,000 protesters “including militant groups seeking to disrupt or, if they can, prevent the summit”.
It adds: “The autonomous protest scene, which has a strong network across Europe, views the summit as a unique opportunity to restore their reputation within their political spectrum.
“Officials at the LKA [Landeskriminalamt] believe the radical anti-globalists will converge on summit sites from all directions in multiple prongs. If one prong fails to get through, the protesters hope another will be able to surmount the barriers.”
The article cites research conducted by Germany’s Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) as having detected activists in the Netherlands, the UK, Switzerland and Italy preparing to travel to the G20 summit. Other protest groups are expected from Austria and Greece, it says. And Kurds are likely to turn up in numbers to protest against Turkish leader Erdogan.
The authorities are, of course, rolling out their heavy weaponry to protect the powerful capitalist elite they serve. They are not only deploying miles of razor wire, but also water cannons, mounted police, dog units, snipers and “special forces”.
A new prison capable of hosting 400 people has kindly been laid on for protesters. The German federal police’s elite GSG 9 “counterterrorism” unit will also be in town.
Needless to say, extra-special protection is being laid on for the leader of the country which spearheads neoliberal capitalist imperialism – the USA. The Americans are even implying that they reserve the right to shoot dead any protesters getting in the way of Mr President.
Reports Der Spiegel: “When U.S. President Donald Trump’s motorcade drives through the city, the streets will have to be empty. The doors of his Cadillac, nicknamed ‘The Beast’, are equipped with titanium armor and are as heavy as those of a Boeing 757 jet. The car even has its own oxygen system that can protect the president against a chemical weapons attack.
“The car has 8 tons of security technology and it cannot be allowed to come to any unplanned stops. Interior Senator Grote has already warned protesters against seeking to try and block Trump’s motorcade, saying nobody knows how the American Secret Service might react.”
Ahead of the summit, on Sunday July 2, there will be a symbolic and non-confrontational “wave of protest” with tens of thousands of people in the port city of Hamburg, on land and on the water.
Then on Thursday July 6 there will be an international anti-capitalist demonstration against the G20 summit entitled “G20 Welcome to hell!“. This gathers at 4pm at the St Pauli Fischmarkt in Hamburg with a meeting involving cultural, musical and political contributions. From 7pm the demonstration will head towards the “red zone” and the final meeting will be held a stone’s throw from the summit’s location in the exhibition halls.
The fight against the ecocidal fossil fuel industry is stepping up, with an impressive mass civil disobedience action staged in the Netherlands on Saturday June 24.
Some 350 people occupied the coal harbour of Amsterdam, forcing it to shut down all activity for the day.
Said the Code Rood (Code Red) website: “We ruled the industry today, but the fight against the fossil industries continues.
“There is no time to lose. While the climate is already visibly changing and politicians allow for continued record-breaking greenhouse gas emissions we are building a militant climate movement that makes a switch from mass protest to mass disobedience.
“We are calling for everybody to join us in this collective struggle. When we join forces we can break the power of the fossil fuel industry!”
The successful action was linked to the nearby Climate Camp, which had opened two days previously.
The occupation did not go unopposed – protesters reported that once inside the site, they were sprayed with foul water “smelling of mud and manure”.
But more than 50 people managed to get to the top of a crane belonging to Coal Transport Terminal Amsterdam (OBA) with a banner declaring: ‘Robbers’ state is killing the climate.’
Wolfmann, one of the hundreds present who were taking part in a civil disobedience action for the first time, said: “It feels incredibly powerful and at the same time very vulnerable. You go with nothing other than your body to try and blockade the fossil fuel industry, that makes you feel vulnerable. At the same time you are with all these people and so you feel very strong together.”
Said another participant: “We are here because as long as there is profit to be made, they will not stop destroying the earth!”
The way in which the neoliberal capitalist system uses the spectre of terrorism to impose its own social agenda has often been highlighted in The Acorn (such as here or here).
And one of the most blatant uses of this repressive device is currently unfolding in France, prompting urgent calls for resistance.
For the last 20 months, the country has been placed under a so-called “State of Emergency”. This legal device was first dreamed up in 1955, during the French state’s attempt to crush the anti-colonial Algerian Revolution.
60 years later it was rolled out again, in November 2015, in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Paris. Since then, it has been renewed no fewer than five times, using various excuses, and is currently due to expire in November 2017, two years after it was introduced.
Right from the start it was used not just against Muslim communities, but against anti-capitalist dissidents. Initially this was against activists organising around the COP 21 Summit in Paris – homes and social centres were raided and activists placed under house arrest, without charges, until the summit was over.
The authorities also shamelessly used these “anti-terrorist” powers to combat the massive wave of revolt against neoliberal labour laws imposed by the previous “Socialist” Party regime.
Recent elections have brought in a new administration under President Emmanuel Macron. Presented as a “centrist” by the global media (see Acorn 34), he is in fact a hardcore neoliberal, determined to destroy the social structures which remain in France.
With trade unions and anti-capitalism still strong in France, Macron knows that he is going to face tough resistance in the months ahead.
Luc Rouban, a political scientist at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, has described the political situation in France as “potentially explosive” and said that “opposition is likely to express itself outside parliament.”
It is in this context that Macron is planning not to lift the State of Emergency, in the absence of any new terror attacks, but to incorporate it into French law!
This plan is already attracting wide concern from those committed to basic freedoms. The draconian and permanent new powers would allow central authorities to:
Ban people and vehicles from certain areas at certain times.
Create “zones of protection” or “security zones” to which the state can control entry.
Ban from any district a person considered to be in some way obstructing the actions of the authorities.
Order the temporary closure of any halls, bars or venues.
Ban any meeting considered to be liable to provoke disorder.
Make unconvicted “suspects” wear electronic tags.
Raid suspects’ homes at any time of day or night.
Use military courts instead of the usual ones.
Search any vehicle without the need for a warrant.
Activists are gearing up to resist this alarming move, as well as the onslaught of neoliberalism it is intended to help impose.
Declares a leaflet currently in circulation: “We refuse to see our fundamental rights reduced to nothing. We refuse to bow down to the police-state politics of a dictatorship!”
They are building for a “massive” day of mobilisation on [DATE NOW SATURDAY OCTOBER 7] in cities across France. Watch this space!
Fracking remains the front line of environmental resistance in the UK, with courageous nature-protectors digging in their heels in a bid to see off this unprecedented threat to the countryside.
The frack free activists at Leith Hill, near Dorking in Surrey, featured in Acorn 29, put up a spirited resistance when bailiffs moved in to evict them at the summer solstice, June 21.
A wooden fortress and tunnel network meant that they were able to hold out for two days, as the representatives of the “law” cleared the way for the desecration of England’s land and water by the profit-hungry oil industry.
Even the mercenary in charge of evicting the protectors expressed a certain admiration for their efforts. Peter Faulding, CEO of SGI, told local media: “When we went on to the site we knew there was one tunnel already but we had no idea how complex their system was, it was a real shock to be honest. It was a completed rat run and the way they had dug them was really impressive. They had built in sections where they could lock themselves on to things and really hem themselves in”.
Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for the South of England, said: “The people at these protection camps are defenders of the earth and they deserve medals”.
While Europa may have, disgracefully, got permission for exploratory drilling in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the camp may have been demolished, the fight obviously goes on and more and more people are becoming aware of what is happening.
Not far from Leith Hill, at Broadford Bridge near Billingshurst (see Acorn 2), UK Oil and Gas is pushing ahead with its drilling plans in the face of local opposition and lock-on blockades. It is now claiming to have found oil.
Placing Broadford Bridge in a broader context, an excellent article by journalist Kathryn McWhirter, published in the Brighton Argus, asks Sussex residents if they really want to see their countryside turned into a massive oil field.
She writes: “Are we prepared to see the countryside we love industrialised for the sake of a small, short-term reduction in our balance of payment deficit, and profits for the few?”
People are “sleepwalking into an oilfield”, she warns, adding that if the oil industry and their Tory friends get their way “there will be wells across the Weald, with West Sussex the prime target”.
Meanwhile, in Lancashire, there are persistent rumours that the drill will soon be arriving at Preston New Road near Blackpool.
Six opponents of the Cuadrilla’s shale gas site took part in a lock-on protest outside equipment supplier, A Plant, on June 19. Then they locked-on at the site itself on Monday June 26.
And throughout July there will be “Rolling Resistance” to Cuadrilla, with mass actions every Friday, starting on July 7 with a “Not Here Not Anywhere” demo at Preston New Road – see the Reclaim the Power website for full details.
Over in Yorkshire on Saturday and Sunday July 7 and 8 there is a Frack Free Community Weekend at the Kirby Misperton Protection Camp.
Some good news on the fracking front came in the unlikely guise of the Queen’s Speech, which made no mention of the Tories’ manifesto threat to make fracking even harder to stop.
Campaign group Frack Free United said: “This is a good day for communities and local democracy. Yes, nothing has really changed and we will have to continue the fight to protect communities from being turned into fracking gas fields, but make no mistake, this is a tipping point.
“The industry will only flourish with government support and the Conservative party U-turn on the manifesto pledge is a real shot in the arm for the campaign, providing even more energy into our campaign for the battles ahead.”
And more good news came from the accounts of fracking parent company, Cuadrilla Resources Holdings Ltd, which showed a loss of $11.6m for the 12 months to the end of December 2016.
And who is to blame for this? Writing in the annual accounts, chief executive Francis Egan complained about “irresponsible and intimidating behaviour” by protesters
Some might suggest that “irresponsible and intimidating behaviour” just about sums up the entire fracking industry, which is why people with a social and environmental conscience are determined to stop it in its toxic tracks.
A new book by Paul Cudenec, The Green One, has been published by Winter Oak Press. It explores how the awareness of our belonging to nature has always been present in human thought and culture. Today this vital spirit, which the author personifies as The Green One, is inspiring global resistance to industrial capitalism.
I am The Green One, although I would maybe better be named The Green Many. Green is the colour of eternal youth, of rebirth, of nature springing back into life after the death-sleep of winter.
I am Pachamama, I am Isis, I am Yemoja. I am Jack in the Green, I am Tammuz, I am Khidr.
I am regeneration. I am the right way of living. Sometimes I am revolution.
I have taken up the mighty sledgehammers of the Luddites. The Virgins are escaping from the churches and heading for the woods. The May Queens are running riot in the streets. Joan of Arc is burning patriarchy at the stake.
The pylons are tumbling. The motorways are crumbling. The pipelines are fracturing.
I am your future.
The Green One is coming! The Green One is coming!
Below is an extract from The Green One. For more extracts go here.
When will the fields come back?
“When will the fields come back and the grass for my children?” – Lord Dunsany, ‘Nature and Time’, Fifty-One Tales
Every time somebody tries to stop a copse being hacked down or a meadow being concreted over, they are me.
Whenever people come together to protect a river, and those beings that live in and around it, from the callous brutality of a dam, they are me.
Each and every person who says “no” to fracking, to pipelines, to power lines, to coal mines, to waste tips, to GM crops or to arms factories is saying “yes” to me and to my presence within them.
When “something” stirs deep within you and sends you out to fight against a new road, a new shopping mall, a new airport or a new power station, then that “something” is me.
If you ever have the feeling that the world you know is insane and risks destroying everything that you value, then you should know that this feeling is me.
And when that feeling becomes an opinion, an argument, a theory or a philosophy, it is me in yet another guise.
Sometimes that feeling takes a secondary form. It might be a theoretical hunch, an ideological sensitivity to the way that even philosophies of resistance can be recuperated by that which they supposedly oppose.
But that energy is still me, only now I am obliged to go to work on the thankless task of clearing all the philosophical tangle and debris that has been blocking your path.
I blossom in the human heart but the human heart needs to let me in. I have to become the opening-up before I can become the filling-in and the acting-out.
To lose something precious is bad enough, but what if you have forgotten that it was precious? Or that you ever had it in the first place? Why would you search for something you do not value? How will you find something that you do not believe was ever there?
Your fields and your green grass will not come back until your love calls out to them.
Anger is mounting on the streets of London, provoking memories of the wave of rioting which swept through the UK capital, and other cities, in the summer of 2011. The latest clashes took place in Forest Gate, on the night of Sunday June 25, and were provoked by the death of Edir Frederico Da Costa, thought to have been fatally beaten in police detention. There have also been furious scenes, amid feelings of deep injustice, in North Kensington after the Grenfell Tower blaze on June 14. Not only do people feel that working class communities are treated with contempt by the authorities, but they are also outraged by the way the death toll has been vastly underestimated: hundreds are believed to have died although officially the total is only 79.
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The increasingly fascistic nature of the US authorities is highlighted in a video interview from Unicorn Riot with a young woman who was arrested for protesting against Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20, J20. She, along with others, faces a jail term of 75 to 80 years! As she points out, the prosecutions are clearly political and are aimed at sending a message that dissent on the streets of the USA will no longer be tolerated. It’s not even a question of protesting “within the law” because laws have been deliberately drawn up as “traps” to make it easy to arrest dissidents, whatever they are doing. She says: “There’s no way to be an activist against oppressive systems and the State in which you are devoid of the risk of arrest.” State repression in the USA is also the theme of the latest 30-minute Trouble video from submedia.
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The Earth First! Summer Gathering 2017 will be held in Hertfordshire, England, from Wednesday August 9 to Monday August 14. It offers five days of skill-sharing for grassroots ecological direct action, where people can make links, share ideas, and get involved in the struggles against fracking, new roads and more. More info at http://earthfirstgathering.org
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From August 18 to 23, the Degrowth Summer School will take place at the Climate Camp in the Rhineland in Germany for the third time. This year’s main topics are “Degrowth perspectives on the future of the Rhenish lignite region”, “Psychology of change” and “Skills for System Change”.
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A shocking indictment of our modern civilization comes from data released by the NHS under a Freedom of Information request. This reveals that hundreds of children in England aged six and under are being prescribed anti-depressants. Anti-depressants at the start of their lives? What sort of insane world have these precious young human beings been born into?
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“The evidence suggests that the barbaric Manchester bombing, which killed 22 innocent people on May 22nd, is a case of blowback on British citizens arising at least partly from the overt and covert actions of British governments. The British state therefore has a serious case to answer.” This is the conclusion of an impressive in-depth investigation from Mark Curtis and Nafeez Ahmed which focuses on UK policies towards Libya and also touches on some of those related to Iraq and Syria.
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Acorn quote: “A great part of politics and law is always theatre; once a social system has become ‘set’, it does not need to be endorsed daily by exhibitions of power (although occasional punctuations of force will be made to define the limits of the system’s tolerance).”
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…
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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.
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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
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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.
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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”.