January 19, 2019: week 10 of history-forging French uprising
For the tenth weekend running, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets all across France in the Gilets Jaunes or Yellow Vests revolt against neoliberal capitalism – and this in the face of unprecedented state violence and oppression.
President’s Macron pathetic attempt to take back the initiative with his “Grand National Debate” has been exposed as a sham, with his regional roadshows protected by armies of riot police – deployed to keep at bay the people he is supposed to be listening to!
In Paris, for Act 10 of the uprising, the latest in a series of massive marches was estimated by observers to stretch for 4km and was met with the usual hostility and teargas from the “forces of order”.
🔴 URGENT – #Avignon : Des #casseurs ont tenté de mettre le feu à l'hôtel de ville. Ils ont incendié un container à poubelles devant la porte en bois du bâtiment situé place de l'Horloge avant de prendre la fuite en cassant tout ce qu'ils pouvaient sur leur passage." #giletjaunepic.twitter.com/EQo9qrVZw8
Everywhere there were thousands and thousands of people demanding an end to the neoliberal misery being imposed on France by Macron’s regime and the whole corrupt political system.
Caen, Rouen, Nîmes, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Toulon, Dijon, Beziers, Perpignan, Montpellier, Lyons, Angers, Poitiers, Marseilles, Bergerac, Brest, Longeville-lès-Saint-Avold, the little town of Foix in rural Ariège…
And from everywhere the same images and reports came flooding in: big crowds, police provocation, teargas, grenades, batons, water cannon, blood and defiance.
You can call it what you like – The Establishment, The Thing, The Matrix or the Industrial-Military-Prison-Propaganda-Complex – but it exists.
It has become trendy in recent years to pretend that this is not so, that what we are seeing is merely a collection of economic or interpersonal relationships.
But it is the system that promotes, protects and imposes all the layers of domination and exploitation that mark our everyday lives.
It is the system that tells us we have to spend our best life energy working for it, just for the right to eat and exist in the world it claims it owns.
It is the system that pays its hired thugs to beat us up, intimidate us, lock us up for years if we refuse to play by its rules.
It is the system that maims and murders human beings on an unimagineable scale across the world, all in the interests of its profit and power, and still always claims the moral high ground.
It is the system that lies through its teeth, with a slick smile on its face, and is always quick to accuse anyone who challenges its lies of being a liar.
It is the system that devours, poisons and destroys our air, our water, our land and our bodies.
It is the system that brings death and extinction while claiming to bring growth.
It is the system that is always looking at new ways to monitor us, to control us, to infiltrate our lives, to direct our thoughts, to crush the tiniest possibilities of our freedom and resistance.
It is also the system, of course, that insists that the system does not exist, that we should not confuse the many trees of its oppression and control with an overall wood that could be termed an entity.
It says that anyone who talks of the system is necessarily a simple-minded fool who imagines the world is all controlled in every detail by half a dozen James Bond villains sitting around a conference table in an underground bunker.
It says that anyone who talks of the system is a conspiracy theorist liable to start spouting all kinds of deranged, maybe anti-semitic, nonsense.
The system says this because it knows full well that the rest of us – the powerless nobodies it so despises – will never be able to effectively challenge the system if we don’t even know that it exists.
On this point, and this point alone, we agree with the system. Identifying the existence of the system is the necessary first step to clearing the way for a worthwhile future for humankind and our planetary home.
The second necessary step is to destroy the system in its entirety.
The system has always depended on being able to control the narrative of the societies it controls, ensuring that its own existence remains invisible and that all its lies are accepted as self-evident truths.
It knows that it is in big trouble if serious numbers of people start ripping the propaganda drip-feeds from their brains and sourcing their information from elsewhere, if people stop parroting the sermons of the system’s priests and start thinking for themselves.
It has been interesting to see the system in panic mode in France, being forced to work through every step of the emergency disinformation procedures as the Gilets Jaunes revolt gathers more and more momentum.
To start with, the Gilets Jaunes were just a passing nuisance. Then they were right-wing extremists, or left-wing extremists if the message was being aimed at a right-wing audience. After that, they were violent thugs and village idiots. Then it was all a flop and dying out. Then they were suddenly threatening armed revolution. They subsequently switched back to being fascists again, maybe of the elusive “red-brown” variety evoked by neoliberals everywhere in their desperate attempts to equate far left with far right and present themselves as the only safeguard against the horrors of so-called “populism”.
Again and again, the well-groomed and arrogant faces of the Parisian elite appeared to inform the French people that they were nothing but uneducated riff-raff who deserved to be shot and telling them to pack it all in. But nobody was watching TV on the roundabouts.
The media even wheeled out the tired old spectre of the Le Pen family once again, with inflated reports of how they were poised to come to power. It’s a great double-act for the capitalists, the old nice-nasty routine: support capitalism or you get fascism.
While there have been howls of media outrage over every flower-pot thrown towards the serried ranks of armour-plated riot cops, the huge levels of brutal violence inflicted by the police themselves have been sidelined or even ignored.
Individual cops have complained publicly that the instructions for this violence – by means of tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannon, grenades or just good old-fashioned beating and kicking – are political and have come straight from the state.
RÉPRESSION CONTRE LES GILETS JAUNES : UN POLICIER MET EN CAUSE LE GOUVERNEMENT
"Le message envoyé par le gouvernement c'est : on veut aller à la confrontation, on ne veut plus éviter la répression, tout est mis en place pour que ça dégénère". Alexandre Langlois, @VIGI_MIpic.twitter.com/wpGlX7T0Je
The system has given orders for the Gilets Jaunes to be left bloodied in the road, handless or eyeless in several cases. The system has given orders for its media to pretend this just isn’t happening.
And people have seen that. Millions of people have seen it and seen through it. The system has played its hand and it cannot keep playing it again and again with the results that it expects.
This is the scenario it fears most. The scenario in which the hologram illusion of democracy projected by its vast range of propaganda techniques flickers and disappears from the minds of the people.
Instead they see reality as it, as it has been for a long time: a criminal gang of professional liars, manipulators and thieves successfully holding millions of people in a state of thralldom, and being prepared to use unlimited violence to hold on to their power.
It is not just in France that the system is afraid of losing control, although the population there seem to be several steps ahead of others in their awareness of what is going on and their courage in actually trying to do something about it.
That is why for years the system has been infiltrating radical political movements – and often sabotaging them from within so they can never successfully mobilise against its domination.
That is why it is rolling out products like NewsGuard to filter internet intervention and try and make sure only the system’s version of reality, the system’s views, can reach the public.
That is why it is constantly removing pages and accounts from social media, policing the internet to try to ensure that small voices of dissent can no longer be heard, while claiming that this insidious censorship is all about countering “fake news”.
That is why journalists who help whistleblowers expose the system’s crimes and manipulations are not only targeted by the system’s police but mercilessly smeared by the system’s faithful media lackeys.
But can the system ever really regain full-spectrum narrative domination and get all that information toothpaste neatly back into the mind-control tube?
Greta Thunberg: darling of the climate change reformists
Needless to say, we at The Acorn are fully behind environmental campaigns like Extinction Rebellion (see Issue 45) which warn that we face planetary disaster unless our society makes radical changes.
But we have to admit that we are often puzzled as to why there is quite so much emphasis on climate change as the primary evidence of something going badly wrong.
Why less talk of the plastic that is choking our oceans, the chemicals polluting our water sources, the nanoparticles absorbed by our bodies, the noxious fumes poisoning our air, the microwaves causing cancers in our brains?
Why so little mention that there is a name for all of this – industrial capitalism?
Why so few calls for the dismantling of this productivist profit-based insanity and the instigation of degrowth to restore a society which produces solely according to its real needs?
Surely it couldn’t be because the climate change movement is being insidiously manipulated by elements of industrial capitalism itself?
Surely it couldn’t be because the issue is being hijacked by powerful private interests as a way of getting rich on the new technologies that will supposedly solve the crisis?
Could it really be the case that genuine environmental activists, arrested and locked up for their courageous actions, are being used as human cannon fodder for a global marketing campaign?
Anyone tempted to dismiss these questions out of hand might like to take a look at the new work published online by radical ecologist researcher and writer Cory Morningstar.
This concerns the “non-profit industrial complex”, which she describes as “the most powerful army in the world”.
She writes that we are currently witnessing “the launch of a global campaign to usher in a required consensus for the Paris Agreement, the New Green Deal and all climate related policies and legislation written by the power elite – for the power elite”.
The policies this campaign is trying to push through include carbon capture storage (CCS), enhanced oil recovery (EOR), bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), rapid total decarbonisation, payments for ecosystem services (referred to as “natural capital”), nuclear energy and fission, and “a host of other ‘solutions’ that are hostile to an already devastated planet”.
The overall aim is the opposite of the degrowth we so badly need and would involve the “rebooting” of the capitalist economy by creating new markets and new growth.
Morningstar warns: “What is being created is a mechanism to unlock approx. 90 trillion dollars for new investments and infrastructure”.
The first part of her in-depth report focuses on “the manufacturing of Greta Thunberg” and the We Don’t Have Time organisation.
Future sections promise to investigate the role of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, 350.org, Avaaz, the World Wildlife Fund, the Green New Deal and, yes, Extinction Rebellion.
We look forward to reading them.
In the meantime, it is important that all of us who want to head off environmental catastrophe make it quite clear that this is not going to happen so long as we remain trapped inside the capitalist system.
He describes our Western world as “a civilization with money as its universal mediation” in which capitalism “encloses” and privatises all aspects of life.
It cannot tolerate the idea of anyone living outside of its enclosure, hence its need to stamp out the practice of “subsistence” farming, where communities have the cheek to simply produce enough food for their own requirements, rather than for the requirements of the capitalist profit-machine.
It forces people into its system by giving them no choice, he explains: “Declaring war on subsistence means dissolving the autonomous ways of life of thousands of people and thereby enslaving them to commercial needs which they can only fulfil by going out to earn a wage”.
The idea of defending a natural world, which includes human communities’ relationships with the environment, has been neglected by Western anti-capitalism, he says, particularly under the influence of mainstream Marxism.
Uprooted from our previous rural existences, we today often find ourselves living in a sterile and life-denying suburban sprawl, a space created “for the demands of capital”, where people are trapped in a dependence on their cars and thus on the oil industry.
Garcia draws much on William Morris and echoes his critique of the artificiality of industrial capitalism: “In this world of artifice, going beyond the surface to a deeper level, that of the sheer essence of things, is no longer conceivable”.
Garcia dedicates another section of the book to examining, and condemning, transhumanism, which he terms “the official ideology of technological capitalism”.
This ideology “reduces the human brain to a simple processer of information, a mere calculating machine” and is built on the “basic negation of the reality of living organisms”.
Behind it lurks a “brutal dualism” which regards mind and body as completely separate, and thus imagines the possibility of a “posthuman” self with no fleshly existence.
Worryingly, this ultra-capitalist creed is also embraced by some who term themselves left-wing and have swallowed the lie that technological and social progress amount to the same thing.
You can read the full version of this book review by Paul Cudenec on his blog.
“The Wet’suwet’en and Unist’ot’en remain steadfast in the determination that we will be successful in halting the toxic Coastal GasLink pipeline”. This was the defiant message issued on January 17 after the Canadian branch of the industrial-capitalist-military complex used shocking force against the indigenous peoples to try and clear the way for its polluting infrastructures, prompting an international wave of solidarity actions.
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Hundreds of people marched in Bern, Switzerland, on Saturday January 19 against the World Economic Forum being held at Davos, and against capitalism in general. They declared: “The infinite greed for profit and power that is seen at the Forum in Davos has no limits. Let the ruling class feel our anger”.
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Protests are to be held in Berlin on February 16 against the European Police Congress being hosted in the city. Says the call-out: “Let us use the police congress as an opportunity to take to the streets together against the police, the security authorities and their laws. Against state violence and repression. Against a world in which it is okay to let thousands of people drown on the borders of Europe, a world in which people are persecuted, imprisoned and killed because of their aspirations for liberation, a world that wants to destroy all forms of a life based on solidarity and collectivity”.
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A new book on squatting has been published by Squatting everywhere kollective (SqEK) and is available to read online. ‘Fighting for spaces, Fighting for our lives: Squatting Movements today‘ provides glimpses into a diverse and multi-faceted movement, with accounts from local struggles, experiences of repression and stories of collective forms of life which have grown out of squatted spaces in various cities and countries throughout the world, including accounts from Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul, Seattle and Australia.
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“Stop 5G on Earth and in Space!” is the message from a new international appeal. It calls for a halt to the deployment of the 5G (fifth generation) wireless network, including 5G from space satellites, explaining: “5G will massively increase exposure to radio frequency (RF) radiation on top of the 2G, 3G and 4G networks for telecommunications already in place. RF radiation has been proven harmful for humans and the environment. The deployment of 5G constitutes an experiment on humanity and the environment that is defined as a crime under international law”.
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In India’s densely populated megacities, residents are rallying against the widespread destruction of trees to make way for capitalist development, reports Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar. She highlights grassroots resistance in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi which are keeping alive the Indian tradition of tree-hugging and passionate defence of nature.
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Brazil’s new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has already set out his vile agenda, reducing the minimum wage and unveiling plans to step up privatization, toughen prison sentencing guidelines, and hand control over Indigenous land to the Agriculture Ministry. The pro-US, pro-Israel Bolsonaro could well be the first in a new line of authoritarian neoliberals ready to impose industrial capitalism on the world without worrying too much about the facade of “democracy”.
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An eye-opening account of life for workers in China has been provided by Dissent Magazine. Uprooted from the land, peasant-workers have to take jobs in the electronic, garment, construction, or service industries whose low wages force them to work punishing hours of overtime. They live in crowded dormitories, under CCTV surveillance and the constant threat of eviction if they protest. “This is the true ‘miracle’ of Chinese industrialization: a highly vulnerable, precarious, and exploited working class”.
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A very interesting article has been published by our US comrades at It’s Going Down, addressing the thorny issue of alleged ideological similarities between deep-green anarchism and fascists, who often used nature-based rhetoric in their propaganda. The author finds that even the way the two traditions talk about nature reveals the apparent resemblance to be superficial: “The philosophies of the fascists came to largely revolve around concepts of domestication, husbandry, design, and surgical intervention; those of the primitivists revolve around wildness, biodiversity, voluntary association, and self-determination”. ‘Fascism, Ecology, and the Tangled Roots of Anti-Modernism‘ sits nicely alongside our own 2018 article, ‘Organic radicalism: bringing down the fascist machine‘ as a step towards clearing up this area of painful ideological misunderstanding.
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Acorn quote: “What is the point of economic progress, a so-called higher standard of living, when the earth, the only earth we have, is being contaminated by substances which may cause malformations in our children or grandchildren?”
1. Rebelling against the industrial capitalist system
Is the human species finally waking up to the fact that industrial capitalism is murdering the planet and realising that we all have to take action to stop it?
The signs are currently looking good in England, where the Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement has appeared out of nowhere and mobilised thousands of people to block streets and engage in civil disobedience.
The first big day of action was on Saturday November 17, when some 6,000 people took to the streets of London.
They blocked five London bridges and planted trees on Parliament Square. More than 80 people were arrested.
Said Gail Bradbrook of XR: “This is an act of mass civil disobedience. This is the start of an international rebellion protesting the lack of action on the ecological crisis”.
There were swarming road blocks across London in the run-up to Rebellion Day 2, announced for Saturday November 24, 10am to 5pm at Parliament Square.
The Rebellion has also started to take off elsewhere, such as Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland.
Some question marks have been raised in anti-capitalist circles about the XR approach. For a start, the enthusiastic participation of pseudo-radical Guardian columnist George Monbiot, who too often mirrors his employers’ anti-left neoliberalism (see the Media Lens archives), has set alarm bells ringing.
A strangely deferential attitude to the police has also worried many. In an article in The Canary, Emily Apple highlighted a failure in XR circles to critique the fundamental relationship between the police, the state and corporations, pointing out: “Ultimately, the police are there to protect the interests of the state”.
She added: “It is our duty to rebel. But effective rebellion will mean facing the full force and the full power of the state, and being prepared for the consequences.
“No amount of statements of non-violence will stop the police going in with full force if what you’re doing is a threat to the state or corporate profit. It won’t stop fundamental police tactics of harassment and disruption; tactics designed to deliberately deter people from protesting”.
However, most would applaud the way XR has achieved what seemed impossible and ignited a whole new wave of public protest against industrial capitalism.
If you believe in a full diversity of tactics, then you have to wish them well and hope that their misguided faith in the intentions of the UK’s police does not end with too many baton-bludgeoned limbs and skulls, when the corporate-owned state decides that XR’s disruptive tactics have gone far enough.
Another encouraging sign of a change in consciousness is the publication by the UK’s Anarchist Federation of a booklet (available online) called Capitalism Is Killing the Earth: An Anarchist Guide to Ecology.
The booklet rightly notes: “There has been wider understanding of environmental issues since mainstream publications such as Silent Spring, Gaia and An Inconvenient Truth; however, an anti-capitalist critique has been lacking”.
The aim of anarchists should therefore be to “make the link between capitalism and environmental degradation explicit in our politics and critique the role of the state in facilitating this”.
It tackles the issue of false solutions to the environmental meltdown, observing that most proposals for change do not question the overarching system of capitalism and the market economy: “The existence of private property, the appropriation of nature as a source of growth and production for profit instead of need are at the root of the problem, so they cannot be part of the solution”.
It was not clear to us, though, what is intended by the reference to a “primitivist” alternative society preventing people from “maintaining or increasing their standard of living”.
For the industrial capitalist mindset, “standard of living” is all about having a car and a dishwasher, flying abroad on holiday and fully participating in the capitalist economy. It is about buying and consuming.
Presumably the authors agree that a genuinely high “standard of living” would involve living freely in a community of equals, sharing the produce of the earth, breathing fresh air, eating uncontaminated food, waking each morning to the sound of birdsong or children’s laughter rather than of low-flying aircraft or the motorway at the end of the street.
The booklet says anarchists should “work more closely with groups such as Earth First!, Reclaim the Power and Rising Tide to further develop an activism which is both confrontational towards capitalism and is inclusive of local and global perspectives”.
We agree. A full convergence of anti-capitalism and anti-industrialism is long overdue. Industrialism and capitalism are not two separate phenomena but two aspects of the same thing.
Whether you first notice its existence from an environmental perspective or from a social one, industrial capitalism is readily identifiable as the enemy.
It is the enslaver of humanity, the stealer of land, the destroyer of community and, unless we can quickly drive a stake through its malignant heart, the murderer of our planet.
2. “At the heart of this problem lies our sense of separation from nature”
In-depth interview with campaigner Geraldine of frackfree_eu
Thanks for agreeing to this interview. Could you tell us a little bit about who you are and what sort of campaigning you are involved in?
I grew up in a rural area. In some respects, I guess I kind of grew up in a bubble, not necessarily privileged, far from it in financial terms, but certainly sheltered from any social or environmental problems.
From a young age, I cared deeply about the environment, but I’d never engaged in any activism as such. I used to receive newsletters from the World Wildlife Fund, and feel concerned about all the animals whose habitats were endangered by deforestation, orangutans and koalas especially.
I was so concerned about deforestation, in fact, that I once replied to exam questions in tiny writing in order to save paper, drawing attention to the fact that trees are chopped down to make the paper. The teacher was outraged by my act, insisted I apologise, but I refused, so she put me on detention.
It wasn’t too bothered. Standing up for what’s right is something to be proud of and I wasn’t going to obey authority whose demands conflicted with my values. I always had a bit of a rebellious streak.
How I got into campaigning… My academic background is in languages. Throughout my studies, I’d never been involved in anything remotely political. It was only when doing a Masters in European Studies that I had my eyes opened to injustices I’d previously been unaware of – such as racism, the Israel / Palestine conflict, austerity. None of these issues made me angry enough to drop everything, though.
Then, in early 2011, I first became aware of fracking while in France with my boyfriend on a business trip, watching politicians on French TV engaged in a fiery debate about how it could contaminate the water.
The French term ‘gaz de schiste’ sounded less scary than the English equivalent ‘fracking’, so after a cursory look in the dictionary which translated ‘gaz de schiste’ as ‘shale gas’ I thought no more of it and just carried on focusing on my studies.
Little did I know at the time that the same technique was being proposed all across Europe and that France was to become the first country to ban it. It actually took me about six months to revisit the issue, after hearing news of earthquakes in Blackpool and seeing a documentary with French MEP José Bové at a fracking site somewhere in Poland.
Once I began ‘googling’ the term ‘fracking’, I was horrified. Then I learned that parts of Ireland were under threat too. Never in my life have I felt so incensed.
My first thought was: How could our government even consider giving permission to an industry that industrialises vast swathes of countryside and that has left a toll of death and destruction in every community where it has gained a foothold?
I’d never held politicians in much esteem anyway, feeling the system was designed to serve the better-off and those of us at the bottom rungs of the social ladder just have to work hard for everything and not rely on the state for help. As for voting, I’d only voted at one election as I felt elections were a farce.
Despite all this, it still took me aback at how Government can allow policies to be dictated by the interests of big business. What stunned me in particular is how these corporations fabricate lies in order to get what they want, repeating this mantra of jobs and growth as if nothing else mattered.
That the truth, the facts, the science, could be obscured for the sake of profit and self-interest ignited a fire in me like never before.
It was time for me to move beyond my comfort zone, beyond my material world and devote myself wholeheartedly to the cause by attending events and speaking out at them, working with people I’d never have imagined working with before, mobilising others to take action, organising events, travelling to places I’d never been – but ultimately sharing the truth about what fracking involves and how much suffering and harm it causes to every living being. Nowhere deserves to become a sacrifice zone, least of all the country where I grew up and love.
Just focusing on fracking for the moment, what do you think there is about it in particular – compared to mining, for instance, or other forms of industrialisation – that has triggered such a strong response in you, and in so many others who were not previously engaged in this kind of struggle?
Excellent and thought-provoking question! I’d be equally outraged about mining, though it is nowhere near as dangerous as fracking, to be honest, and have replied to consultations objecting to mining projects proposed in my country.
At the moment, communities in Northern Ireland, some of whom were previously licensed for fracking, are having to fight several mining projects. And at the height of the Romanian anti-fracking campaign, I remember meeting Romanians who were also involved in the campaign to save Rosia Montana from gold mining.
Anyone who opposes the raping and plundering of the land through fracking should also oppose mining or any industrial practice. Not to do so would be inconsistent, as all these practices pollute the air and water we all need to survive.
To answer your question properly, firstly, I think the term ‘fracking’ itself makes you sit up, encouraging you to delve deeper into the issue.
‘Shale gas’ on the other hand – as I experienced myself when I looked it up in the dictionary – tends to sound harmless, leaving you thinking, “Well, we need gas to heat our homes, don’t we?!” This is why the term ‘shale gas’ is preferred by the fracking industry, I believe.
And although ‘fracking’ may not have the same resonance in other languages, the documentary ‘Gasland’ by US filmmaker Josh Fox did much to popularise the term in non-English speaking countries, with translations into French, Romanian and Polish, and other languages too perhaps.
Secondly, I think the scale of what was being proposed across vast swathes of land, merely because of the geology, impacts thousands of communities. No other industry, in recent history at least, has impacted this many rural communities and no other industry has prompted so many places to enact bans and moratoria as a result of fierce grassroots opposition either.
Biologist Dr Sandra Steingraber and report co-author of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (Unconventional Gas and Oil Extraction) has called fracking “the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”
Having spent countless hours exploring fracking, I also believe that the impacts are far more severe than those associated with any other industrial process.
We have been fortunate to have had many experts – including Dr Steingraber, toxins expert Dr Marianne Lloyd-Smith, lawyer Helen Slottje, former oil and gas employee Jessica Ernst, as well as others who have seen fracking up close – come to Europe, warning us to fight with all our might.
And for good reason, because this industry has killed and harmed so many, from workers who have lost their lives in well blowouts or contracted cancers because of exposure to the toxic chemicals fracking uses and the NORM radiation the fracking process brings up – so well detailed by the late Dr Theo Colborn – to residents, children included, living in the gasfields suffering from severe neurological diseases caused by the toxic air pollution.
You also have suicides. The late George Bender, an Australian farmer, who was bullied for years by the fracking industry, ended up taking his own life a couple of years ago.
Then you have all the fish that have died because of fracking waste dumped in waterways and livestock that have suffered stillbirths. As Queensland gasfield refugee Brian Monk says, “You don’t live in gasfield. You die in one.”
Thirdly, I think fracking has raised the ire of so many because there is absolutely no need for it. The industry loves to tout energy security as an argument, but this is a complete red herring.
The reality is that fracking requires more energy than it creates – about five times more – and removes enormous quantities of our most precious resource, water, from the hydrological cycle forever.
There is also a global glut of gas, and gas demand across the EU has been falling steadily in recent years. So there can be no justification whatsoever for fracking.
Mining for raw materials, on the other hand, may be seen as justified by some. I mean, how many of us are willing to radically change our lifestyles so all the stuff relying on mining doesn’t need to be produced in the first place?
Try suggesting to people that they can and should live without a mobile phone (those of us who grew up without one survived perfectly well!) tends to provoke angry reactions.
Fourthly, the anti-fracking movement – largely grassroots and volunteer-based in nature – has done quite a good job of communicating the issue. Communication is crucial in mobilising people to take action. So often I see other struggles, equally worthy, being poorly communicated.
I think what’s important is that the communication is driven by local communities as much as possible. The corporate media loves to marginalise anti-fracking campaigners, portraying us as ‘environmentalists’, ‘green campaigners’, or worse ‘hippies’ and ‘treehuggers’.
In doing so, they give the impression that fracking is a fringe issue not worthy of everyone’s concern, when the complete opposite is true. In reality, the movement is made up of people from every background imaginable, from farmers and small business people to doctors and engineers.
Having communications driven by locals means you are able to capture all the cultural sensitivities too.
Framing our campaign as a struggle against corporate power and corporate-captured governments with ordinary people rising up against the odds also gets more people on board, in my experience. Again, unsurprisingly, the corporate media rarely frames our story this way.
Lastly, you definitely have a wider movement which vilifies the fossil fuel industry, and rightly so, because it exerts so much power over our governments. Other extractivist struggles, on the other hand, tend not to spark as much outrage, I feel.
Perhaps this is because any questioning of the capitalist system, and industrial civilisation as a whole, threatens so many depending on the system, especially NGOs who have far greater resources than grassroots groups to communicate environmental issues.
Shortly after I began researching fracking, I came across a book called ‘The Moneyless Man’ by Mark Boyle. Reading it led me to question industrial civilisation as a whole, so for me, fracking has always been just one part of a systemic problem.
At the heart of this problem lies our sense of separation from nature, a sense that we humans are in control of the earth’s resources and that we have the right to exploit them how we wish, oblivious to the fact that in doing so we are also destroying our only life-support system.
Living with less and challenging the system fuelling this greed and separation from nature has now become the focus of my efforts as a result of learning about fracking and wider environmental struggles.
What do you see as the main obstacles between the human species and a healthier, nature-connected future?
So much to say, but for me three obstacles in particular stand out: materialism, trust in authority and hope. Apologies in advance for what is going to be a lengthy reply.
– Materialism vs spirituality
First and foremost, I believe we need to abandon our material selves. For too long, we have seen ourselves as separate from nature, rather than a part of it. How can we forge a deep connection with nature, realising that all life is sacred, unless we are willing to strip ourselves of material belongings?
In becoming less materially-focused and more spiritual beings, we become less willing to destroy our life-support system, in my experience, as we feel a deeper attachment to nature.
How much do we really need to survive anyway? When you think about it carefully, very little. The only things I need to survive are a roof over my head and enough food.
Since discovering how earth’s precious resources are being raped and plundered and reading Mark Boyle’s book, a must-read for anyone who cares about the environment, I rarely buy anything I don’t need.
Each time I look at things now, I feel a sense of disgust even, wondering where the resources came from to make an item, what environments were polluted, if any slave labour or oppression was involved in its production, and so on.
I’ve also developed a repulsion towards money, choosing to work just enough to ensure my survival. What I’ve learned now is what you need more than anything in life are strong relationships.
Too often I see those involved in environmental struggles –- especially in anglophone countries – advocating renewable forms of energy which also involve destroying nature. I find this strange.
Perhaps it is this focus on reducing carbon emissions, rather than a focus on protecting the sacred, protecting all life? Perhaps many are still trapped in the materialist mindset?
The cosmovision shared by Indigenous communities tells us that we are interdependent with one another, that harming any natural resource is harming ourselves. This is the vision I share too, because on a planet of finite resources only a radical shift in our way of thinking, away from the disconnected view of humans as separate from (and often as dominant over) nature, can lead to the profound changes we need to see.
As Babe actor and anti-fracking activist James Cromwell put it succinctly in an interview : “It is time to name the disease. Capitalism is a cancer. And the only way to defeat this cancer is to completely transform our way of living and our way of thinking about ourselves.”
– Trust in authority vs trust in one another
Years of intense campaigning against fracking and free trade agreements has taught me how corrupted by corporate power the entire system has become.
I’ve learned now that genuine solutions to our problems can only ever come from below, not from any authority, and certainly not from any form of government, be it local, regional or national, nor from any multilateral institution, no matter how well-meaning and benevolent that institution may appear on the surface.
The system can also embody the NGO and non-profit sector who, I’ve experienced, will tell you what the problems are but seldom bother to call into question the very structures that create these problems in the first place.
And because the root cause of these problems is never properly addressed, the same problems of exploitation surface time and time again.
To learn just how corrupted our authorities have become by corporate power, I’d advise everyone to invest themselves wholeheartedly in an issue like fracking where the links between a corporate-controlled government, a corporate-controlled media and a corporate-controlled police force fast become apparent.
On learning how corrupt the system is, you should come to the inescapable conclusion that it deserves to be dismantled.
Unfortunately, not everyone does realise this, perhaps because they rely on the system in some way –- I don’t know.
For example, I remember being at a conference on free trade in the EU Parliament nearly two years ago listening to an NGO campaigner making a case for reforming the World Trade Organisation. Why would you want to reform an institution that was set up to facilitate corporate power, power which destroys nature?
Calling for institutions to reform is akin to justifying their existence in the first place. Instead, we need to be challenging their very existence and calling for them to be dismantled altogether.
A bit utopian, I know. But as corporate power dictates political policy more and more as corporations pursue ‘the race for what’s left, the global scramble for the world’s last resources’ – to borrow Michael Klare’s book title – it would be illogical to envision a nature-connected future within the confines of the current system.
We have a responsibility right now to challenge the system itself, the structures of authority which hold themselves up as legitimate, which declare themselves as bastions of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, structures which are desperately seeking legitimacy at a time of crumbling empires and dwindling resources.
This obviously includes all multilateral institutions, but also the state. From my involvement in the campaign against EU free trade agreements, or corporate power grabs as I prefer to call them, I’ve seen how the state facilitates corporate power, while dismissing scientific evidence, expert advice and public opinion.
How can we possibly hope to protect nature under such an oppressive, undemocratic system whose servants bow so readily to the will of corporations?
As empires crumble and we veer towards what can only be described as a corporate dystopia, we simultaneously witness authority figures struggling to convince us of their narratives.
Hence the crackdown on alternative media and this ‘fake news’ phenomenon, a phenomenon used by those in power to control what information the awakening masses have the right to access.
As you’ve put it succinctly, all across the world the “’democratic’ gloves are coming off, the ‘news’ is revealing itself to be nothing but desperate propaganda, the ‘freedom’ capitalism claims to deliver is being exposed to one and all as a hollow lie.”
It is more urgent than ever that we stop looking to the system for solutions, stop legitimising all structures of authority and any ‘agreements’ concluded by their ‘leaders’ and, most importantly of all, stop falling for any propaganda trying to convince us that this system in its many guises – capitalism, multilateralism, liberalism, etc. – needs rescuing.
Instead, we need to trust each other and cooperate with each other rather than compete as this capitalist system conditions us to do. I would recommend everyone read CrimetheInc’s ‘To Change Everything‘ for further inspiration.
– Hope vs the responsibility of action
Lastly, we need to abandon the idea of hope, at least the sort of hope that fails to result in any tangible action. The hope that a small band of self-sacrificing activists will sort out the problems we face, the hope that political representatives will implement, of their own accord, policies that serve our interests rather than those of the 1%, the hope that a change in government will bring about the radical changes we need to see. Nature isn’t relying on us to hope for it, it is relying on us to do something to save it.
In one of your pieces, you share a remark by John Zerzan which resonates strongly with me: “There is an understandable, if misplaced, desire that civilization will cooperate with us and deconstruct itself. This mindset seems especially prevalent among those who shy away from resistance, from doing the work of opposing civilization”.
Sometimes I get the impression that people hope too much, but do too little.
In my experience of being involved in the Irish anti-fracking campaign – which lasted six years – many of us never hoped, never trusted our corporate-captured government, but many of us did work tirelessly to expose the political corruption and to ensure decision makers were held to account, listened to us and eventually did the right thing.
Anyone relying on hope without spending every breathing moment working on something to make things better is part of the problem, in my view. All campaigns need to start from the premise that you have a duty to act once you know the facts.
And once you learn about an issue as dangerous as fracking, of course, you feel a clear responsibility to take action, not out of fear – because fear kills the soul – but out of love, because you cherish the places and the lives that are under threat and don’t want to see them destroyed by greedy corporations.
As you put it so well: “Some human beings and their activities are acting as antigens, threatening the health of our species and our planetary superorganism. Other humans must therefore take on the role of antibodies”.
The last lines of Derrick Jensen’s essay ‘Beyond Hope‘ sum up the problem with hope perfectly: “When you give up on hope, you turn away from fear. And when you quit relying on hope, and instead begin to protect the people, things, and places you love, you become very dangerous indeed to those in power. In case you’re wondering, that’s a very good thing.”
For as long as anyone can remember, Western capitalism has claimed to be one and the same thing as “democracy”.
But as its global empire teeters on the point of collapse, its desperate attempts to cling to power have exposed this claim for the lie that it always was.
Much of the current wave of censorship and oppression is taking place on the internet – which has thus so far remained out of the direct control of the neoliberal system.
This October, Facebook and Twitter deleted the accounts of hundreds of users, including many alternative media outlets.
And credit for this seems to have been claimed by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a very dodgy NATO-linked organisation (previously exposed by The Acornhere and here) which aims to maintain full-spectrum US neoliberal global control.
The grayzone project reported that the GMF’s Jamie Fly said the USA was “just starting to push back” against its enemies’ use of the internet, adding: “Just this last week Facebook began starting to take down sites. So this is just the beginning”.
The USA’s ongoing persecution, and planned prosecution, of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange could likewise be regarded as part of the same “beginning” of neoliberalism’s overtly fascistic desire to crush any voices that dare to speak out against its imperial privilege.
Soo too could the coming to power in Brazil of the totalitarian neoliberal (or “plutofascist“) Jair Bolsonaro.
The Coordenação Anarquista Brasileira (Brazilian Anarchist Coordination) point out the geopolitical forces that lie behind his regime: “It’s clear our continent, Latin America, is seen as a strategic reserve of resources (political, natural, energy) for the use of the US, which makes the political situation of Brazil so important to Washington”.
Bolsonaro has followed the USA’s lead in declaring war on so-called “fake news”, which seems to mean any criticism of his policies by a supposedly “left-wing” media.
The UK government is also getting in on the censorship act, announcing that it is preparing to establish a new “internet regulator”.
Reports Buzzfeed: “The planned regulator would have powers to impose punitive sanctions on social media platforms that fail to remove terrorist content, child abuse images, or hate speech, as well as enforcing new regulations on non-illegal content and behaviour online”.
All of this helps further reduce what the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) recently called “the shrinking space for protest in the UK”.
Netpol’s Kevin Blowe wrote: “The militarised mentality of public order policing undoubtedly demands the latest technological advances, but it does so for a reason: conducting any war is never simply about the capture of physical space, but about the ability to maintain domination and control over it.
“’Keeping the peace’ (perhaps more accurately, pacification) involves the shrinking and ultimately denial of any space that your ‘enemy’ might conceivably benefit from. In public order policing terms, this invariably means any space to directly challenge either state or corporate power exercised in the name of progress or economic growth: for example, against the construction of airports, subsidies for the arms industry, nuclear power, fossil fuel extraction, or restrictions on workers’ rights”.
Netpol’s 2017 report on the policing of anti-fracking protests in England highlighted concerns that intense police surveillance of protesters has a potentially ‘chilling effect’ on freedom of assembly, in actively discouraging many from participation in campaigning activities.
“Furthermore, the smearing of legitimate campaigners as ‘extremists’ drives a wedge between them and potential allies in their communities and is used as a weapon against them by the media and pro-industry groups”, added Blowe.
Meanwhile, after the trial run with dogs, the microchipping of the UK’s human population is underway, starting at that point of greatest disempowerment, the workplace.
UK firm BioTeq has already fitted 150 implants in the UK. Another company, Biohax of Sweden, says it is in discussions with several British legal and financial firms about fitting their employees with microchips, including one major company with hundreds of thousands of employees.
If you can’t see the connection between this news and everything that has been outlined above, then you’re really not paying attention!
Work penetrates and determines the whole of our existence. Time flows mercilessly by as we shuttle back and forth between depressing and identical locations at ever-increasing speeds.
Working time… Productive time… Free time… Every one of our activities fits into its box. We think of acquiring knowledge as an investment for a future career; joy is transformed into entertainment and wallows in an orgy of consuming; our creativity is crammed within the narrow limits of productivity; our relationships, even our romantic encounters, speak the language of performance and profitability…
Our alienation has reached the point where we seek out any kind of work, even voluntary, to fill our existential void, to “do something”.
The identification of work with human activity, this doctrine which presents work as human beings’ natural destiny, seems to be lodged deep within our minds. This has reached the point where to refuse this forced condition, this social constraint, seems sacrilege, something no longer even thinkable.
Thus any kind of work becomes better than not working. That is the message spread by the defenders of the existing, those who want to maintain this world by calling for an ever-more frenetic race amongst the exploited, who are supposed to trample all over each other for a few crumbs from the bosses’ table.
However, it is not only the general working conditions that are leading us into this dead-end. It is work as a whole, work as a process which turns human activity into merchandise. It is work as a universal condition in which social relationships and ways of thinking are formatted.
It is work as the spinal column that holds together and perpetuates this society based on hierarchy, exploitation and oppression. And work as such must be destroyed.
We don’t just want to be happier slaves or better managers of our own misery. We want to restore meaning to human activity by acting together, guided by the quest for joie de vivre, knowledge, discovery, camaraderie and solidarity.
For individual and collective liberation, let’s liberate ourselves from work!
(Translated from anonymous leaflet Le travail libère-t-il?)
No political party has overall control of Brighton and Hove City Council, but Labour has the most councillors (22), with 20 Tories, 11 Greens and one independent.
A sign of the campaign’s momentum came four days after the public meeting, on November 16, when the East Brighton branch of the Labour Party unanimously called on all Labour councillors to oppose the development.
The housing scheme is being proposed by Hyde Housing, a business notorious for its profit-hungry approach.
It wants to build five blocks of flats on the local nature reserve at Whitehawk Hill, which is a common, Statutory Access land under the CROW Act and is an Ancient Neolithic Scheduled Monument.
An interesting side-issue has been the role played by something called Brighton Yimby, which claims to be a local pro-development group and announced online a “Whitehawk Says Yes” campaign in favour of the Hyde project.
It seems to have very little support in Brighton itself, with the notable exception of local Tory politician Rico Wojtulewicz, who also happens to be the senior policy advisor for the House Builders Association (HBA), the housebuilding division of the National Federation of Builders.
Instead it is very much part of an international, mainly American, “Yimby” network described in one US article as “the darlings of the real estate industry”.
We can only assume that when BrightonYimby claimed to speak “for the interests of the many” it meant to say “money”.
An impressive series of infographics has been produced, showing the variety of complementary ideas challenging the global domination of industrial capitalism. The illustrations cover degrowth, ecofeminism, deglobalization, the commons, the Vivir Bien movement and the concept of the rights of Mother Earth. Importantly, all these perspectives are recognised as complementary and opening up the possibility of a different world. Says the website: “To build systemic alternatives it is necessary to forge strategies and proposals that at different levels confront capitalism, extractivism, productivism, patriarchy, plutocracy and anthropocentrism”.
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A dynamic protest movement, NO TAP, has emerged in Melendugno, near Lecce in southern Italy, in response to the threat of the 540-mile Trans Adriatic Pipeline, due to bring gas from Azerbaijan into Europe via Turkey, Greece and Albania. Local anger was sparked in 2017 when the start of the works resulted in the uprooting of more than 200 olive trees and the creation of a securitised dead zone at the heart of the community. People have mobilised in numbers and have, inevitably, been met with repression by the police, those worldwide defenders of the industrial machine. NO TAP have produced a short video giving an idea of their full-on first year of struggle and which includes the following inspiring message: “The sun is shining for everyone, the wind is blowing for everyone… the possibility of realizing change is only a matter of will”.
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A protest is to be staged against the Welsh government’s plan to build a new motorway across the Gwent Levels, to the south of Newport. It would cost taxpayers at least £1.5 billion and drive global warming, whilst destroying a landscape known for its wildlife, archaeology, tranquillity and beauty. Says the CALM campaign: “Join us to say #NoNewM4, 12.30pm, Tuesday 4th December, outside the Senedd, Cardiff Bay. Our rally is an urgent call for Wales to take a fresh path – fit for all of us today, and for all our future generations”.
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Angry local people in eastern France are rising up against a hideous toll motorway project near Strasbourg, and some of them have been on hunger strike for a month. The 553-million Euro GCO scheme threatens many acres of forest and countryside and has been pushed through by the state and its corporate chums Vinci in spite of public inquiries coming out against it. Protesters have regularly blocked the work, causing serious delays in the project, and on November 18 some 400 people turned up to plant trees on the land already rased to make way for the new road. There is an international call-out to block Vinci everywhere in solidarity.
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The week of action against the G20 and IMF in Argentina (see Acorn 44) begins on Monday November 26 and the full programme of events has now gone online, in English, here. A date to keep an eye open for is Friday November 30, which is a national day of struggle against capitalism.
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We have come across two interesting online articles about that grim industrial-capitalist cult of life-denying artificiality known as transhumanism. Libby Emmons writes that “transhumanism is oppression disguised as liberation” and “part of a giant ideological redefinition of humanity”. She warns: “In its various forms, transhumanism is an attempt to reify an illusory mind-body dualism that has consequences well beyond what we can currently imagine”. And Julian Vigo comments on the dogmatic intolerance of the transhumanist stance, which paints as reactionary any point of view which questions, for instance, the wisdom of “cutting off healthy limbs to make way for a super-Olympian sportsperson”.
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“Thames Valley Police sent in multiple riot vans, used force against protesters several times and stood by as the Union’s private security assaulted protesters in broad daylight. One of the main chants throughout the demonstration was ‘Who protects the fascists? Police protect the fascists!'” The reality of the way that the capitalist system promotes and protects the far right was once again exposed in Oxford, UK, this month, where Islamophobic American globe-trotter Steve Bannon was met by a hostile 1,000-strong crowd when he turned up at the university. Report here.
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An exciting new step is being taken by the Enough is Enough project, which provides online news and info on the international struggle against capitalism, fascism and other forms of injustice. It is opening an info café in the Nordstadt district of Wuppertal, German territory. They say: “We do not just believe in a better world. We have started to live it a long time ago. And you all can decide if you want to become part of this world”. They have a crowdfunding site here.
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Feral Crust is an eco-anarchist collective based in Davao, Philippines, which is working on a land and community project. It is set on 1/2 hectare (1 acre) of the hilly terrain within the remaining forests that is home to native wildlife and indigenous people. You can read about their bid for land regeneration and autonomy here.
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In the midst of a devastating civil war, Kurds in Northern Syria, are building a multi-cultural society based on feminism, ecology, and direct democracy. How can these ideas lead to a lasting peace in the Middle East? What are their implications for radical politics in the West? What is it about the social structures of Rojava that inspires the fierce loyalty of its defenders and its people? Join Debbie Bookchin and David Graeber in London at the DJAM Lecture Theatre SOAS Russell Square Campus to discuss these issues Sunday November 25 from 5pm to 7pm at an event to launch the new publication Make Rojava Green Again by the Internationalist Commune in Rojava. The book will be available to buy and all proceeds from sales support the work of the Internationalist Commune. More information here.
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Acorn quote: “This system cannot be reformed. It is based on the destruction of the earth and the exploitation of the people. There is no such thing as green capitalism, and marketing cutesy rainforest products will not bring back the ecosystems that capitalism must destroy to make its profits. This is why I believe that serious ecologists must be revolutionaries”.
1. Germany: man dies as forest campaigners defy industrial capitalism
The battle to protect a forest from the coal mining industry has claimed a life.
Journalist and campaigner Steffen Horst Meyn fell to his death on September 19 from the tree house village Beechtown in Hambach Forest, Germany. He had been trying to document an ongoing eviction action by the police Special Task Force (SEK).
A press release from campaigners said it was no coincidence that this first fatal accident took place during the eviction.
They said everyone in the occupations had been enduring constant stress, with noise from expulsion and clearing, day and night, floodlights and flashing blue lights, massive police presence on the ground, and the sound of barking dogs and recordings of chainsaw noises.
This, as well as the news about the repeatedly life-threatening approach of the task forces, was having a physical and mental impact on all involved. Insomnia, stress and over-stimulation were not conducive to safe tree climbing, they added.
“According to our information, there is no direct connection with the acute local police action at the time of the accident. But we know first-hand that the deceased only climbed into the trees because he was permanently prevented by the police from doing his press work on the ground.”
On Sunday September 23 thousands of people defied a police ban and pouring rain to enter the forest in solidarity.
Said one activist: “We didn’t visit the memorial for Steffen in Beechtown until Sunday and we felt that we had to go there first. At the memorial it was very quiet. Some tears, sorrow-stricken faces. Personally I had a mixture of feelings.. Still shocked, grief and rage. Speechless…”
Barricades were built, police lost control for a while and reacted in the only way they know – violently.
On September 24 forest defenders blocked the railway line used to transport coal from the open cast mine to power stations, hoping to draw police resources away from the eviction – see this video.
Then on September 25 the cops demonstrated their total lack of respect for Steffen, removing the memorial built up by his friends because it was in the way of the eviction!
Meanwhile the Hambach activists are not losing sight of the bigger picture, stressing in a statement that the issues at stake go far beyond that particular forest and that particular mining threat.
“The problem is much larger than this forest getting cut and this coal mine being active. The problem is larger than every forest getting cut and every mine destroying Earth. The problem is capitalism. And this is the message that the media has been taking away from us.
“You can live a cute easy life, sign petitions, buy stuff on the biomarket, close the sink while you are brushing your teeth and turn off all lights to not waste electricity, and, don’t get us wrong, that’s okay, but as long as we live on a system that needs infinite growth on a world that has limited resources, that’s not gonna stop environmental destruction.
“We need an anticapitalist view of ecologism. We need an ecologist view of anticapitalism. We need to see beyond coal. And we need you all to make a step farther to stop climate change, to make a step farther to destroy capitalism.”
Global capitalist summits, at which the system’s leaders flaunt their prestige and power in front of the fawning global media, make an ideal target for anti-capitalist action.
Yes of course the opposition is symbolic, and does not immediately change day-to-day living conditions, but so are the summits. Wars of ideas are fought on a symbolic level.
Sly “radical” memes suggesting large-scale mobilisations are a waste of time often seem to have come straight out of The Infiltrator’s Guide to Ideological Sabotage (see below) and can safely be ignored.
With that in mind, we were delighted to see the call-outs for two summit mobilisations, in Argentina and in France.
This year, the Argentinian government is hosting the G20, a one-year process during which more than 80 meetings of G20 working groups, ministerial meetings and summits of the focus groups are taking place in the country.
The Leaders’ summit, for which the presidents from the G20 countries will travel to Buenos Aires, will take place on Friday November 30 and Saturday December 1 2018 at the “Costa Salguero” Convention Centre.
The government of Mauricio Macri is already preparing for the mega-event, buying airplanes, arms and what they call “anti-riot equipment” . In fact, one third of the budget for organizing the G20 is dedicated to “safety and defence”, which roughly amounts to 50 million US$.
And while the government is spending millions on the G20, it is cutting expenses for education and health and has entered a dangerous spiral of indebtedness by asking the IMF for a loan of 50 billion US$ in order to assure the country’s liquidities and its capacity to pay speculative hedge funds.
Says the No Al G20 website: “We believe that, in the same way that organising the G20 Summit last year in Hamburg was a massive provocation, organising the G20 Summit in Argentina in the context of this devastating financial crisis is an insult.”
The Confluencia Fuera G20 – IMF (the “G20 – IMF Out Confluence)” is planning a massive Week of Action, from the November 25 to December 1 and is inviting everyone to participate in the global repudiation of the G20, the IMF and everything these institutions represent.
Anti-capitalist comrades in France clearly think the Buenos Aires mobilisation is summit to get excited about, writing: “After the magnificent period of resistance around the G20 summit in Hamburg in 2017, after the G7 summit of June 2018 in Quebec – placed under an unparalleled repressive level, with its free expression zone – the G20 summit at Buenos Aires in November / December 2018 promises to be a great moment, given the current popularity of Macri, the history of local struggles, and the animosity of the region towards Trump…”
The 2019 G7 summit is due to take place at the end of summer 2019 in Biarritz. Says the call-out: “We have no illusions about the repressive level that we are entitled to expect from [Minister of the Interior] Gérard Collomb. It is clear that this summit will once again be a law enforcement laboratory, as will judicial measures against demonstrators and those who are organizing themselves.
“However, what happened in Hamburg must inspire us, must allow us to resume fighting on this scale, strengthen our international ties, make the news, disrupt these meetings of our governments.
“We are indeed calling for organizing, starting meetings, discussions, thinking about actions, demonstrations, preparing an info-tour, strengthening our national and international ties, writing articles, leaflets…
“We have one year ahead of us. And given the current repressive level, this time will not be too much. And as in Hamburg, we want the resistance to be plural and everywhere.
The British state is spending more than £250m on a new “offensive” online army, according to media reports.
Inevitably the move from the Ministry of Defence and GCHQ is being dressed up with scaremongering around the “threat” from Russia and Islamic State, but there is also talk of a “much wider online offensive” against “a range of hostile actors”.
To better understand what this sinister outfit might be getting up to, it is worth looking back at an article in The Intercept on the activities of GCHQ’s initially secret unit, JTRIG (Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group), based on classified GCHQ documents.
Author Glenn Greenwald explains that it is not just “terrorists” who are targeted by JTRIG, but online activists, and the methods used go well beyond mere surveillance (stifling though that is, especially in the UK).
He writes: “These agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate, and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the internet itself.
“Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets; and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable.”
The official document lists different kinds of operations it uses against dissidents: Infiltration Operation, Ruse Operation, Set Piece Operation, False Flag Operation, False Rescue Operation, Disruption Operation, Sting Operation.
Anyone wondering why radical groups (known to be heavily infiltrated by the state), so often split and fall apart may be interested to see the emphasis on “destructive organisational psychology” and on “identifying and exploiting fracture points”.
Sabotaging activism is generally high on the agenda. One illustration lists a series of key words: block, turn, fix, disrupt, limit, delay.
It is also clear that GCHQ sets out to manipulate political discourse online. Shunting radical anti-capitalism into obscure ideological dead-ends would be a useful dirty trick for these Thought Police to pull off.
With several references to stage magicians in their presentation document, JTRIG obviously rely on the gullibility of activists to make their scheming effective, as well as the “group-think” phenomenon in which people abandon their own instinctive common sense in order to fit in with the flock, no matter what nonsense the other sheep are bleating.
They note: “People make decisions as part of groups”. Control the group and you control the average individual – and their thinking.
Absurd capitalist pontificator Bernard-Henri Lévy has joined in the laughable and panicky propaganda efforts to portray all challengers to the US-led neoliberal system as part of one and the same threat to “democracy”.
BHL, as he is known, warns against a “terrifying” movement he calls the “dark Internationale” and into which he lumps everyone from left-wingers such as Jeremy Corbyn and Jean-Luc Mélenchon to the likes of Viktor Orban, Matteo Salvini, Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump.
Singling out Corbyn for criticism, he particularly objects to his support for the Palestinian cause, which apparently makes him a conspiracy theorist and “unalloyed anti-Semite”.
BHL, despite being a self-identified “leftist”, also dislikes Corbyn’s “crass ignorance of the functioning of a modern economy and the impression he gives, when speaking about renationalization, tax policy, anti-austerity measures, the health system, or public services, of being stuck in the paleo-Marxism of the 1950s”.
And he is very worried by Corbyn’s “untethered loathing for an America he blames for all ills” – a political heresy which can only usher in, it seems, an “oncoming twilight of democracy and humanistic values”.
BHL has form for this sort of thing. In 1977 he declared he would change his French nationality if the Communist Party came to power in France and in 1985 he signed a letter urging Ronald Reagan to keep supporting the far-right Contras in Nicaragua.
In 2009 he publicly supported Israel’s murderous Operation Cast Lead against the people of Gaza.
BHL’s rabid pro-Americanism did not go unappreciated in the USA. As we mentioned in Acorn 34, a CIA report revealed they were very keen on the “New Philosopher”, whose position of power at the Grasset publishing house was crucial in spreading the US-friendly ideology he was promoting.
It is hardly surprising that BHL is widely despised by French-speaking anti-capitalists and he has also become a figure of ridicule, thanks to the series of custard pies skillfully aimed at him by celebrated entarteur Noël Godin.
We invite our readers to sit back and enjoy the sight of BHL getting his come-uppance from the patisserie-armed wing of the “dark Internationale” that so terrifies him.
A festival of anarchist ideas is being held in London in October, with the non-appearance of the usual bookfair after last year’s controversy (see Acorn 38).
Organisers explain: “It is vital the tradition remains and the work of spreading anarchist ideas continues. To go some small way to filling the gap, the organisers of the London Radical Bookfair have proposed having a decentralised festival of anarchist ideas and action, involving as many of London’s anarchist leaning bookshops, social centres and campaign groups as are willing to take part. We’re calling it #nottheanarchistbookfair.
“The idea is simple: anarchist groups put on their own programme of events, concentrating on the dates of the weekend of 20-21st October 2018, and the programme is collated by us on our website and social media”.
The battle to save Leith Hill in Surrey from drilling has finally been won! Two years ago we reported an optimistic mood at the protection camp, with one campaigner telling us “nobody except a handful of investors wants the drilling here at Leith Hill to go ahead”. He was proved right and earlier this month Europa Oil and Gas announced it was pulling out of the site. Green Party MEP Keith Taylor commented: “Don’t let anybody ever tell you protests don’t achieve anything. They do.”
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A cooperative café and social centre sowing the seeds of revolution in Jerusalem is featured in the latest report from the anti-capitalist Shoal Collective. The Imbala collective explain they are faced with an increasingly nationalistic atmosphere: “We held a vigil of just 20 or 30 people in Jerusalem city centre. People yelled, spat and kicked us and all our signs were torn away from us. That’s the atmosphere of Jerusalem today. It’s difficult to have a left-wing protest against the occupation here these days.”
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Direct action was taken in Australia against toxic right-wing anti-migrant politician Peter Dutton. Six windows were smashed at his political office near Brisbane and two doors damaged. The former cop, turned businessman, property tycoon and politician, is known by some Australians as Potato Head. He is currently Minister for Home Affairs.
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“For too long we have falsely believed that everything progressive, democratic, and radically left comes from the Modern West. As we support contemporary emancipatory and revolutionary global movements, let us remember that truly equal and just non-authoritarian societies are not only possible, but have existed on the African and other continents for much longer than the recent phenomenon of tyranny, the state, and capitalism.” This is the conclusion of a fascinating article on Indigenous Anarchism by DJ Zhao, highlighted recently by anarchist blog The Slow Burning Fuse.
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“Mother Earth or death! This is the alternative we are confronted with today”, argues Prof. Claudia von Werlhof in an important article. She adds: “The world system that is threatening all of us is based on a strange phenomenon I was only recently able to fully grasp, namely a ‘hatred of life’… The hatred of life is no fleeting emotion or a mere individual or personal experience of a certain situation or moment. It is nothing less than hostility to life itself, which – and this is my thesis – has become the main foundation, driving force, and defining criterion for a patriarchal civilization dating back almost 5000 years.”
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A unity demo against the far right in the UK has been called for Saturday October 13 in London. The call-out has so far been supported by: Anti-Fascist Network, Anti-Fascist Student Network, Birmingham Antifascists, Easton Cowgirls Football Club, Feminist Fightback, International Bolshevik Tendency, Leicester Antifascists, Kent Anti-Racist Network, Kurdish Student Union UK, London Anti-Fascists, Midlands Antifascist Network, North East Anti-Fascists, North London Anti-Fascists, Plan C – London, Birmingham, Essex, Cambridge, Queerspace East, Sister not Cister UK, The x:talk project, Women’s Strike Assembly – London, Birmingham, Cardiff. Meanwhile an excellent short documentary on the UK’s far right has been produced by redfish.
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Acorn quote: “I am the living spirit of nature as it emerges in you, filtered by the collective mind of the human species”.
The call is going out to mobilise against a fascistic and militaristic “security” conference being staged in Austria on September 20, 2018.
The informal meeting of EU heads of state and government is being held under the slogan of “A Europe that protects”, and key points on the agenda include so-called “internal security”, the so-called “protection” of the EU’s external borders, and so-called “cyber security”.
Say opponents: “We refuse to be deceived by the EU’s excessive use of euphemism. It is crystal-clear that the Salzburg summit will be a summit of authority: a pseudo-democratic spectacle of a bunch of assholes deciding about repressive policies that will boost their position in the struggle for economic and military power – at our expense.
“‘Internal security’ means giving even more weapons of all kinds to those whose job it is to spy on us and arrest us. The ‘protection of the EU’s external borders’ is the militarized expulsion and deterrence of refugees and migrants. ‘Cyber security’ means digital control of our data and our actions.”
Migration will be a key point on the agenda on September 20. In an insidious propagandistic move, people fleeing from war and hardship are portrayed as a security threat. But whose security is meant, and who is supposed to be protected from whom?
Calls for an extended Frontex mandate and an increased number of deportations have a clear aim: the militarized expulsion and deterrence of people fleeing the devastations caused by power blocks such as the EU, who actively engage in the exploitation of the Global South.
Politicians are vying with one another for the most absurd plans. To name just one example, Jens Spahn, the Health Minister (sic!) of the German conservative party (CDU) wants to see Frontex forces multiply from the current 1,500 to 100,000.
The portrayal of refugees as a security threat serves to legitimize policies of “internal security”, that is the increased arming of the state’s institutions for spying and repression.
Sadly, governmental and non-governmental racist-nationalist projects have won over the minds of a considerable proportion of the population (not only) in Austria – with the result that people enthusiastically embrace policies that run against their own interests, believing that these measures will “protect” them.
For instance, the new Austrian Face-Veiling-Ban makes surveillance much easier by forcing each and every person on Austrian territory to present their face to the ubiquitous CCTV cameras at all times. This is hardly likely to foster the “peaceful coexistence” mentioned in the preamble to the new law.
Another European trend is the increased arming and militarization of the police and the extension of their powers. The new Bavarian police law is a particularly scary example: police in the southern German state are set to be given secret-service-style powers. “Smart” video technology and face recognition are going to be used, postal secrecy will be lifted, and the cops will be equipped with hand grenades.
The Austrian conservative chancellor Sebastian “Message Control” Kurz has announced he will take up the “struggle against internet giants such as Google and Facebook”. Of course, digital policies are not driven by the desire to protect the personal data of the EU’s subjects. Neither do they arise from sincere outrage about the large-scale tax evasion practised by corporations.
On the contrary, the driving force of such policies is the competition for technological hegemony among those in power and for the technological means to monitor our thoughts and actions.
Those in power in the EU have recognized the need to secure control over the technological apparatus, in order to keep up with the latest top manipulation techniques (e.g. look up “nudging” in your newspeak dictionary). In this context, chancellor Kurz tellingly used the phrase “equality of weapons”.
According to press reports, the state dinner on September 19 is likely to take place in Mirabell Palace, and the political meeting in the Mozarteum University. Thus, both relevant venues as well as the four hotels where the heads of state and government, plus their entourage, will be staying for the summit will be in close proximity to each other (all in the inner city of Salzburg to the right of the river Salzach).
Around these venues, a so-called “security zone” is going to be set up – for rebels it is more likely to be an insecurity zone. In mid-April, local press reported the planned use of drones “as one part of the security concept for the Austrian presidency of the EU council”.
The call-out adds: “Police drones will be hovering above our heads this autumn, spying on and filming each of our movements. When will they shoot at us?
“The militarized siege of our city that is lying ahead seems like a consistent follow-up to local policies. Decades ago, homeless people were removed from the inner city during the posh Salzburg Festival, and a sectoral ban on begging was imposed on large parts of the inner city some years ago in order to get rid of the travelling poor, many of them Romani and Sinti people.
“These measures are supposed to make sure that the city’s wealthy conservative elite and paying tourists are spared the sight of the poverty caused by capitalism and nationalist-racist policies of expulsion. This is how Salzburg discriminates between wanted and unwanted guests.
“We are calling all partisans of freedom and equality to come to Salzburg in mutual solidarity – let’s demonstrate what is really unwanted: the oppression caused by white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, the nationalism feeding on antisemitic conspiracy theories, the positions of power that enable a system of inequality to live on.
After the long-awaited victory against the airport project, residents of the zad autonomous zone at Notre-Dame-des-Landes in France are trying to recover from a brutal spring which was marked by two phases of violent evictions.
The massive police operations caused many injuries, the destruction of a part of the living spaces of the zad and involved a long military presence. But the state was forced to give up going any further and entirely eradicating the rebel presence.
Resistance on the ground, solidarity elsewhere and the negotiation process resulted in a status quo that left dozens of homes, common spaces and activities on most of the land held by the movement. Nevertheless, this could very quickly be attacked again, administratively, politically or militarily.
Whilst the zad recovers from its wounds and recomposes itself, the work in the fields and the constructions resume.
Important global issues are involved here: collective and respectful use of the land, sharing of the commons, questioning of nation-states and borders, reappropriation of habitats, the possibility of producing and exchanging free from the shackles of the market, forms of self-organization on territories in resistance and the right to live there freely.
Following more than two years of regular building work and a new month of construction this summer, the week of August 27 to September 2 will also be the inauguration of the Ambazada, a space intended to welcome rebels and struggles from around the world to the zad of Notre-Dame-des-Landes.
To honour and celebrate the opening of the Ambazada the zad rebels have made a call for a new intergalactic week.
The zad forever site says there are lots of questions to be discussed, such as “how to throw down the anchor for the long term without becoming domesticated; being community centred or more porous in our movements; the power struggles and frontal relationship with the state and possibilities for victories to last”.
Part of the week will be devoted to open encounters with guests from the Wendland in Germany, Christiania in Denmark, the free district of Lentillères in France, Errekaleor in the Basque Country and perhaps Exarchia in Greece.
There will also be discussions on the way that peoples everywhere are resisting cultural assimilation and liberal ideology.
The US air base at Ramstein in Germany was completely blocked by a protest of 2,500 people at the end of June, calling for it to be closed.
Ramstein is the biggest American air base outside the USA and hosts the USAF’s European HQ, and control rooms for drone missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.
On a blistering hot day better suited for a trip to the pool, and despite the rival attraction of the World Cup, opponents of the base turned up in large numbers for the annual protest in Rhineland-Palatinate in southwestern Germany.
Sahra Wagenknecht of Die Linke (The Left), Ann Wright (former US Army colonel), Reiner Braun (of Stopp Air Base Ramstein) and Eugen Drewermann (theologian and psychoanalyst) were all in attendance. Wagenknecht told the crowd: “There are over 1,000 US military bases around the world, and none of them exist to ensure the security of those countries”.
The protest came as US President Donald Trump seemed to be questioning the need for the huge US military presence in Germany, which has been in place since the end of the Second World War.
Protesters hoped this could put the issue on the political agenda in Germany, though they warned they did not want to see the bases simply moved into Poland as part of US pressure on Russia.
A new international network against military bases has now been set up. Its founding statement defines the establishment of a military base by one country outside its own territory is an act of aggression.
It declares: “Our goal is to close all foreign military bases. Military bases pose threats of political and economic expansion, sabotage and espionage, and crimes against local populations. US bases in particular are the largest users of fossil fuel in the world, heavily contributing to environmental degradation.
“We commit to supporting and working with all organizations and networks who campaign for the removal of foreign military bases in their countries and communities, to raise public awareness, increase political and international pressure and help as far as possible to organise and co-ordinate non-violent resistance with the aim of eventually closing them all.”
4. Returning fire against the industrial capitalist system
The latest issue from our comrades at Return Fire magazine is now available online.
At 128 pages, this is their largest offering yet. It includes previously unavailable English translations looking at the bandits operating against shipping industries off the Somalian coastline and Marco Camenisch’s commentary on the molecular frontier of industrial toxicity, Nanotechnology & Transparency.
There is a look at the “New Smart World of Slaves” into which we are currently moving and at anti-state forms of social life in Zomia, south-east Asia, amongst much else.
Here is a passage from a heart-felt piece called “We are not afraid of their ruins… We carry a new chaos in our hearts”:
“We proclaim from our madness, rebellious and contagious, that we don’t care about the penal codes and their reforms because we do not believe in their laws or in their disorders.
“Since we were born we have lived in turmoil and subjected to the rule of law, the family, religion, medicine, school, work, husband, father, state… and disobeying them all, and for that reason they have labeled us with their despicable assortment of incurable and chronic diseases.
“They condemn us for life even before we are born, and we will continue shitting on their scientific, political, economic, social and religious truths, because obedience and submission are the only true diseases.
“We began a long tormented journey in which we were torn from our natural environment to join the system of a world to which we do not want to adapt. We will always be uneasy, unstable, critical, irritating, miserable, emotional, passionate, restless, resistant, distracted, loving, hyperactive, overflowing… and warriors, because we will not give up germinating our madness in the face of the blackmail and emotional conflicts with which they want to domesticate us and the permanent confrontation between us and them.
“We are sick with a dark bile of rage that stirs like a storm against all those who feel safe and secure in this uncertain world that, day by day, destroys us. They contaminate the air we breathe with sulfur and uranium. The waters of the rivers are increasingly toxic due to their heavy metal slag discharges.
“Their emissions of dioxides, methane and fluorinated polluting gases are suffocating and burning nature and putting at risk the survival of all animals, human or nonhuman, and plant beings.
“They covered the planet with a thick skin of toxic black paste and surrounded the territory with rail tracks, highways, metal fences, concrete walls, high voltage towers and barbed wire fences… separating us from our siblings and neighbors and filling the atmosphere with electromagnetic radiation.
“They keep the mountains seriously ill from wounds opened by quarries, mineral extraction and deforestation. They imprison nonhuman animals to die in industrial farms, and they enlist us in industrial centers of penitentiary exploitation.
“They bomb civilian populations in the name of freedom, justice and democracy, plundering entire countries for questioning their hegemonic model of capitalist, white, patriarchal, western and Christian life, leading thousands of people into the blind alley of their misery, destruction and death.
“And it is they, the selfproclaimed guardians of the freedoms of the world, of this destructive world order that is nothing new, who consider us ‘crazy’ and ‘dangerous subjects’ to justify our gags, the pharmacological straitjackets, the confinement to perpetuity and the death sentence.
“Our ‘madness’ is not fooled by the modern designs of the democratized chemical lobotomies and shock therapies that they use as torment and torture in the most bloody of dictatorships… because they fear us.
“They, those who throw us out of our houses, those who after exploiting us in their factories force us into unemployment. They, those who determine who has more ‘right’ to live in a territory that is not theirs and in which they can only maintain their privileges by the harsh repression and by the destructive capacity of the weapons of their armies… They fear us”.
5. The Broken Harp: how colonialism crushes culture
When we think of people suffering under colonial occupation, a number of elements immediately spring to mind.
There is the military and repressive side, of course. The occupiers’ army bases and patrols, the courts and prisons enforcing the “legality” of the occupation and the local police forces who collaborate with the colonisers to keep down their own people.
Then there is the economic aspect, ultimately the raison d’être of all imperialism. Raw materials are ripped out of the earth to feed the empire’s insatiable greed, crops are exported directly back to the imperial centre even if locals are starving, the colonial subjects are denied the right to autonomous lives and are put to work as slaves for the imperial machine.
Those who look into the effects of colonialism more closely will also detect the cultural dimension. The values of the ruling imperial order are imposed and local culture, traditions and ways of thinking, which might offer some resistance to the smooth running of the centralised system, are devalued and destroyed.
One aspect of this cultural colonisation which is easily forgotten, especially by those of us who are native English speakers, is the linguistic one.
The crucial importance of this issue is examined in depth in The Broken Harp: Identity and Language in Modern Ireland by Tomás Mac Síomóin, published by Nuascéalta.
The starting point for Mac Síomóin’s analysis is his own home country, where the Irish Gaelic language risks becoming extinct within a few decades, if current trends continue, despite its superficial presence on road signs and the like.
He takes issue with the assumption, apparently widespread in Ireland, that Irish particularity can just as well be expressed by speaking English in a particularly Irish way.
He points out that words, in any language, have an aura of subtle associations that are specific to the culture which gave rise to them. The English word “seaweed”, for example, is not the exact equivalent of “feamainn”, which comes with its “own unique set of social and literary allusions”.
The inability of any community to express itself in its own terms, according to its own thinking, is a form of disempowerment that runs parallel to the inability to participate in decision-making processes.
Effectively, by talking and thinking in the coloniser’s language, the colonial subject submits to the dominant worldview of the coloniser. This is the “defining colonizing moment”, as Mac Síomóin puts it.
He quotes academic historian Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh as describing the abandonment of native language as inevitably involving “a disorienting rupture in cultural continuity at several levels; not only an alienation from landscape (place names) and inherited historical narratives and communal myths, but also a deep psychological trauma, at an individual and communal level, caused by the loss of a rich inherited matrix of wisdom and knowledge.”
The issue is by no means confined to Ireland, of course. More than 6,000 languages are currently spoken around the globe, but between 50% and 90% of these are likely to have vanished by the year 2100, warn experts.
Mac Síomóin cites perspectives from other continents, where the death of local culture has gone hand in hand with the death of local language.
The Kenyan writer and cultural activist, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, for instance, writes: “Communication between human beings is the basis and process of evolving culture. Values are the basis of people’s identity, their sense of particularity as members of the human race. All this is carried by language. Language as culture is the collective memory bank of a people’s experience in history. Culture is almost indistinguishable from the language that makes possible its genesis, growth, banking, articulation and indeed its transmission from one generation to the next.”
He adds: “The bullet was the means of the physical subjugation. Language was the means of the spiritual subjugation.”
In their Neo-Colonial Politics and Language Struggle in the Philippines (1984), Virgilio G. Enriquez and Elizabeth Protacio-Marcelino argue that possession of a national language is an essential precondition for autonomy.
They say the continued use of English in a US-oriented educational system “undermines Filipino values and orientation and perpetuates the captivity in the minds of the Filipino people to the colonial outlook. For them, the English language symbolizes the belief in the superiority of US culture, values, society; thus it can only serve the exploitative profit-seeking ends of US power.”
Mac Síomóin identifies several layers of colonisation in Ireland, from the historical English colonisations to the Anglicising role of the Roman Catholic Church, the contemporary effect of British TV and, of course, the influence of US cultural imperialism, which has so undermined the authenticity of European societies since the mid 20th century.
He asks how many Irish children, even Irish-speaking ones, know a tenth as much about the heroes of traditional Gaelic mythology, Fionn Mac Cumhail and Cúchulain, as they do about The Simpsons, Dora the Explorer, Sponge Bob Squarepants, etc., and the world of Disney.
He identifies the Irish as suffering from a kind of collective Stockholm Syndrome, a “Super-Colonized Irishness” (SCI), which renders them incapable of even noticing what has happened to them, let alone resisting it.
And, in a fascinating aside, he dips into contemporary genetic research to suggest that some kind of inherited colonisation trauma could be affecting the psychological health of the Irish people, as well as other victims of imperialism across the world.
From a native English-speaking perspective, it has to be said that the psychological state of the English population is not great, either!
But then the dispossessed of England have also been dominated for centuries by an arrogant ruling elite, seen their folklore and ancient wisdom suppressed by authoritarian religion, been thrown off the land and into industrial slavery and been used as cannon fodder for the profiteering greed of the imperialist classes.
Who, anywhere and in any language, can really escape the deeply imbedded trauma of being born into a dehumanising industrial capitalist society plummeting towards nightmarish environmental catastrophe?
6. Organic radicalism: bringing down the fascist machine
In a new in-depth analysis just published on our website, we take a look at the “eco-fascist” smear often levelled against deep green anti-capitalist thinking.
Although the Nazis certainly exploited nature-friendly language for their propaganda, we show that ultimately their narrow racist dogma was completely incompatible with coherent holistic and organic thinking.
We also explore the organic philosophies developed by anarchist, left-wing and Jewish thinkers and suggest that these would make an excellent basis on which to rebuild an explicitly anti-fascist organic radicalism to resist and eventually bring down the industrial capitalist machine.
Here is an extract:
Kurt Goldstein (1878-1965) was a Jewish socialist critic of modernity, who set out to combine holistic and organic German philosophy with the values of reason, democracy and individual freedom.
Throughout his life, he warned against the dangers of applying narrow, fragmented scientific ways of thinking to other realms.
He wrote in an unpublished 1965 paper: “The progress by the application of science to all fields, also those which are related to the spiritual side of man, as education, psychology, sociology, etc, seems to be so enormous that somebody who today dares to oppose even a little this trend and warns against the fateful consequences for human existence is considered either stupid or uneducated, irresponsible or prejudiced”.
From Goldstein’s holistic perspective, everything was interconnected, outside and inside the individual human being. The words ‘mind’ and ‘body’, for instance, did not point to genuine entities but were just ‘symbols’, human abstractions, denoting different aspects of an overall organic reality that could not in fact be divided.
He has been described, by Ruth Nanda Anshen, as having introduced “a new doctrine of organism which may be said to be taking the place of the materialism with which, since the seventeenth-century, science has enmeshed philosophy”.
The psychologist Max Wertheimer (1880-1943), took Goethe as a starting point, developing the idea of Gestalt, or underlying form, in a promising direction far removed from the dead-end of racism into which the Nazis tried to divert it.
Born in Prague, he fled central Europe before Hitler came to power and continued his work in the USA, later becoming an American citizen.
While the Nazis claimed piecemeal or fragmented thinking was a Jewish trait, Wertheimer, who was himself Jewish, turned this round against them.
He argued that the modern world had cropped humanity’s thinking capacity. Piecemeal thinking – strings of propositions torn from their original living context – was being used by demagogues and certain intellectuals to hoodwink people into accepting their ideas.
In the 1934 essay ‘On truth’ he distinguished between truth and mere facts. Facts meant nothing on their own. Truth was a holistic understanding of the significance of various facts in the wider context of their relationship to one another and to a larger whole. He wrote: “A thing may be true in the piecemeal sense, and false, indeed a lie, as a part in its whole”.
Wertheimer judged that the key concepts of truth, ethics, democracy and freedom were all under attack from contemporary academic thinking, influenced by positivism, pragmatism and cultural relativism. Indeed this anti-holistic stance had itself helped prepare an intellectual field in which it had become possible for the Nazis to succeed.
In an essay on ethics, he took a critical look at ethical relativity which – like the Nazis with their German/Aryan particularism – denied the existence of ethical universals.
As a believer in the organic unity of humankind, Wertheimer disputed this and insisted that experience showed that most people, “when faced with clear, actual injustice”, responded spontaneously in ways that human beings would universally consider decent and ethical.
Gestalt psychology, which Wertheimer developed along with Kurt Koffka (1886-1941) and Wolfgang Köhler (1887-1967), was an influence on the anti-capitalist Critical Theory of Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979), Max Horkheimer (1895-1973) and the Frankfurt School in general.
The organic and anti-mechanistical approaches taken by Jewish thinkers like Wertheimer and Goldstein illustrate the fact that there existed a broad anti-industrial current in German-speaking Europe which was not simply non-Nazi, but anti-Nazi, and whose fundamental principles placed it in direct opposition to fascism.
Two big days of action against the far right are coming up in London. The first is on Friday July 13, when massive protests are expected against US President Donald Trump. The second is on Saturday July 14 when bigoted worshippers of the Tommy Robinson cult will be peddling their own version of Muslim-hating xenophobia. The Anti-Fascist Network have announced a Saturday meet-up at 1pm at the International Brigades Memorial in Jubilee Gardens on the south bank of the river and they will march from there.
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The Earth First! UK 2018 summer gathering will be held in Sussex from August 15 to 20. It offers five days of skill-sharing for grassroots ecological direct action – make links, share ideas, and get involved in the struggles against fracking, new roads and more. The gathering will be camping at a rural site (accessible by public transport, nearest station Horsham). Participants will need to bring a tent, sleeping bag, torch and suchlike. Meals are provided by the gathering’s collective kitchen and there’ll be a snack shop.
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The fascist-capitalist-industrial system is using private security firm Eclipse Strategic Security to carry out surveillance against anti-fracking campaigners on behalf of the oil and gas business, an article on Motherboard has revealed. It adds: “Eclipse has ties to oil companies, the police and military networks, and one director is a former British soldier who has expressed support for far-right groups online”.
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From July 29 to August 2, the 4th international Degrowth Summer School in Germany will take place at the Climate Camp Leipzig Land. After three years at the Rhineland Climate Camp, the event with around 500 participants now moves to another mining area and to this new camp.
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Israel is arming neo-Nazis in Ukraine, a shock report on Electronic Intifada has revealed. The Tavor rifles being used by the Azov militia are produced underlicence from Israel Weapon Industries, and as such would have been authorized by the Israeli government. This is just the latest instance of links between Israel and the extreme right in Europe.
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“Reviving the memory of the struggles of the past makes us feel part of something larger than our individual lives and in this way it gives a new meaning to what we are doing and gives us courage, because it makes us less afraid of what can happen to us individually”. So says Italian activist and author Silvia Federici in an inspiring interview on the joyfulmilitancy site.
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Are the degrowth “Buddhist economics” of E.F: Schumacher heading for a badly-needed revival, as capitalism pushes humanity to the brink of disaster? In a thoughtful article on brainpickings, Maria Popova looks at a vision that challenges the dominant mercantile and mechanistic mindset obsessed with production and profit.
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Pro-war “radlibs” (radical liberals) come under discussion in this moderate rebels podcast from the USA, which also debunks the “red-brown” smears increasingly used by McCarthyite pro-war “leftists” to malign anyone opposed to US/NATO-led regime change.
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Acorn quote: “You have hanged in Chicago, decapitated in Germany, garotted in Jerez, shot in Barcelona, guillotined in Montbrison and Paris, but what you will never destroy is anarchy. Its roots are too deep. It is born in the heart of a society that is rotting and falling apart. It is a violent reaction against the established order. It represents all the egalitarian and libertarian aspirations that strike out against authority. It is everywhere, which makes it impossible to contain. It will end by killing you”.
It has long been obvious that the Thatcher years in the UK were an important moment in social history, which paved the way for the neoliberalism we know today.
Her fervently pro-US government pushed through wave after wave of privatisation and assaults on the public sector, dismantling the structures of the vaguely social-democratic version of industrial capitalism that had remained intact since the Labour election victory of 1945.
The same thing is happening in France at the moment under President Emmanuel Macron, a hardline neoliberal in the Thatcher mould, who hides this by adopting, in a Tony Blair kind of way, a smoothly “progressive” facade.
Like Thatcher and Blair, Macron is “pro”-US in the same way that leaders of Cold War East Germany could be said to have been “pro”-USSR.
With Brexit, the US neoliberal empire lost its key placeman in Europe, so it was vital that France flew the flag for “Transatlantic values”.
Macron, a former investment banker at Rothschild, was actually groomed by a US propaganda organisation, the German Marshall Fund of the United States, as they proudly declare on their website.
He was “awarded the Marshall Memorial Fellowship, the flagship leadership development program of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, in 2006”.
Macron “participated in an intensive learning and networking experience designed to foster collaboration, build personal capacity and prompt innovative thinking and problem-solving” and was “immersed in communities across the Atlantic through travel and study”.
Macron may have won the 2017 election, but his attempts to Thatcherise France are proving deeply unpopular and have sparked massive opposition in the streets.
The main elements of this revolt concern:
1. Trade unions. Currently the railway workers are in the front line, fighting Macron’s attack on the SNCF and the unions.
2. Education. His neoliberal education “reforms” are being met with fierce resistance by students and lycéens – High School students – with occupations and protests across the country.
3. Migrants. Macron may have won the presidential run-off because people didn’t want a Front National government, but his interior minister Gérard Collomb is rolling out anti-immigrant rhetoric and legislation worthy of the extreme right.
4. Zadistes. Macron abandoned plans for an airport at Notre-Dame-des-Landes only to launch a brutal eviction of the zad, a unique free space of resistance and alternative living.
5. Police violence. Common to all these aspects has been a spiralling use of thuggish violence to impose neoliberal policy. Trade unionists, students and other protesters have been frequently attacked by the CRS riot police. Far-right vigilantes appear to be working hand in hand with the state. At the zad, a young man had his hand blown off by a police grenade and dozens have been beaten up and injured by Macron’s enforcers.
6. “Convergence des luttes”. The positive side to all this is that there has been increasing emphasis on a convergence of all the struggles, a realisation that they in fact amount to one single social war. Rail workers have supported the zadistes and vice-versa. There is solidarity between students, anti-fascists, anarchists, socialists and so on. The common enemy, the Macron regime, and its extreme neoliberal objectives, are plain to see.
Defeating this enemy will not be easy, despite the enthusiasm generated by the 50th anniversary of the May 1968 uprisings, but if Macron had wanted to radicalise a whole new generation of young people and turn them into sworn enemies of his neoliberal project, he could hardly have gone about it better.
Most of us are familiar with word puzzles that invite us to fill in the missing link between two apparently unconnected words. The solution to road ( ) bean would be “runner”, the answer to salad ( ) gown would be “dressing”, etc.
The same game can be played with issues and events. Two different things are going on at the same time, which seem to be unrelated. But, if you pay attention, you will see that there is a hidden element which ties them together.
To see how this works, let’s take two current UK controversies. The first is the Philip Cross scandal, in which Wikipedia entries have been systematically edited for political ends by some kind of self-appointed thought police.
The second is the question of police infiltration of dissident political movements. After activists started unmasking police spies in 2010, with media interest, the state was forced to hold an Undercover Policing Inquiry, which has led to more revelations and a lot more official obfuscation and cover-up.
The puzzle here could be expressed as thought ( ) spies and our sharper readers will already have spotted that the answer is “police”.
But what implications lurk behind the word, in the context of a bracketed zone between Orwellian re-writers of the record and coppers pretending to be activists?
As a useful article by Connor Woodman in Jacobin Mag reminds us, there is a political objective behind the spy cop operations: “These overwhelmingly left-wing groups were infiltrated for a clear reason: to delimit the scope of threats to the status quo”.
In our own recent Winter Oak special report we looked at the way in which the infiltration of our movements is not limited to the level of practical activism.
It is clear that we are witnessing a concerted attempt at ideological sabotage, at a bid to destroy anarchist and anti-capitalist coherency and effectiveness by infiltrating and undermining its thinking.
Much of this currently seems to revolve around the “red-brown” smear, the claim that certain people on the left are actually, wittingly or not, pandering to fascism and crossing a line of “acceptable” opinion.
This is staged in a very clever, but intellectually dishonest, way.
The witch-hunt process paints itself as coming from a very enlightened anti-fascist position.
And from that position, which amounts to the moral high ground in anti-capitalist circles, it condemns others as being somehow right-wing, reactionary or, increasingly, “anti-semitic”.
But the truth is the exact opposite. The witch-hunters are themselves part of a pro-war, pro-US, pro-Israel, neoliberal network and are attacking their targets not from the left but from the right.
They in fact object to anyone who is critical of the neoliberal system and its imperial wars.
The whole “red-brown” angle totally reflects the neoliberal worldview, in which they, the imperial capitalists, are the political default position, the “centre”, and anyone who opposes them is an extremist, a populist, a “red-brown” fascist.
By constantly insisting that the anti-capitalist left is somehow close to far-right populism, these neoliberals are in fact doing the very work they accuse others of doing – of trying to blur the lines between the two very different and in fact incompatible world views.
This attempted ideological amalgamation is an assault on the left, a bid to tarnish its strong ethical principles with racist or other unsavoury associations.
Apart from the neoliberals themselves, the other big winners from this strategy are the fascists, who suddenly find the perfect camouflage for their views. When half of the left are being accused of anti-semitic or fascistic tendencies, what have real fascists got to fear?
Do the fake-left witch-hunters care about this? No, because they are not actually anti-fascist. They merely use the “fascist” smear as a way of discrediting and disabling the anti-capitalist left in the interests of right-wing neoliberalism.
These attacks are being churned out at an alarming rate at the moment, and all seem to follow more or less the same line of attack.
Witness a three-part article which appeared on the New Zealand site Fightback entitled “The Red-Brown ‘zombie plague’: how fascist ideas are becoming popular on the Left”.
Author Daphne Lawless, a supposed left-winger, launches straight in with a complaint about left-wing challenges to the dominant narrative in Syria. Like all neoliberals, she just has to leap to the defence of Uncle Sam.
Claims of pro-US false flag attacks are “baseless slander” and, of course, nothing but “conspiracy theories”, tainted by association with the far right, she says.
This is her springboard into the usual smears. It is all part of “a growing convergence of Leftist and far–right rhetoric”, a “red-brown” menace.
Critics of US imperialism, she suggests, neatly integrating the US state’s “fake news” offensive, have simply fallen for “Russian propaganda”.
Lawless approvingly quotes an attack on anti-Americanism by Moishe Postone, the Canadian “leftist” who is regarded as a major inspiration for the antideutsch movement, that bizarre pro-US, pro-Israel, pseudo-leftist German political movement.
On and on she goes, leaving the reader with a gnawing realisation of how familiar it all seems. The obsession with Syria, Russia and “the Iranian mullahs”. Her quoting of the views of Alexander Reid Ross, Jonathan Freedland, Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leil al-Shami to back up her arguments. Her dislike of Jeremy Corbyn, Noam Chomsky, Vanessa Beeley, Jill Stein, Max Blumenthal, Caitlin Johnstone, Roger Waters…
Lawless in fact generally shares the same likes and dislikes as whoever is behind the Wikipedia re-writing.
The “bad guys” are anyone who criticises the US empire and the “good guys” are all the cloned corporate hacks who furiously condemn them as “red-brown” pro-Russian fascists for daring to do so.
But there is more to the neoliberal attack on the real, anti-capitalist, left, than this spurious equation of anti-imperialism with nationalist or pro-Russian positions.
The other big ideological weapon in their armoury is the claim of anti-semitism and this is being rolled out with desperate regularity.
This has now gone far beyond questions around Israel or Zionism and is being used to vilify all direct opposition to the capitalist system.
Author and blogger Jonathan Cook remarks: “It is an indication of how quickly this slippage is occurring that repeating now a slogan of the Occupy Movement from only seven years ago – that we are ruled by a ‘global elite’, or the ‘1 per cent’ – is cited as proof of anti-semitism. The liberal New Statesman recently ran an article dedicated to proving that the articulation of basic socialist principles – including ideas of class war and the 1 per cent – was evidence of anti-semitism.”
He concludes that the mystification of anti-semitism is being used to prevent any criticism of “a turbo-charged neoliberal capitalism destroying our planet”.
A look at the article in question shows that he is right. Targeting Corbyn in particular – a real hate figure among neoliberals, presumably because he might win a UK general election – authors Matt Bolton and Frederick Harry Pitts condemn “his understanding of capitalism as a ‘a rigged system'” and declare that “if Corbyn is as serious as he says he is about militant opposition to anti-semitism, his worldview as it is may not survive intact. Rather, it must be radically revised and rethought”.
And whose words do they use to back up this insidious argument? None other than Daphne Lawless’s hero, the late Moishe Postone. The same old script!
The message of these various efforts is that if you don’t want to be called an anti-semite and a red-brown fascist, in “left-wing” articles and on Wikipedia, you will have to “radically revise” your anti-capitalism so that it suits the neoliberal fake-left agenda.
You will have to say that capitalism is not a rigged system, that a tiny elite ruling class does not hold all the wealth and power, that Israel is not a militaristic apartheid state, that the USA is not a warmongering imperial capitalist menace to the rest of the world.
You will have to say that two plus two makes five, otherwise the neoliberal thought police, posing as holier-than-thou fellow left-wingers, will be out to get you…
A startling insight into the ongoing US military occupation of the Japanese island of Okinawa has been published on the In The Fray website.
The article was written by Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson of Shoal Collective, a newly formed cooperative of writers and researchers writing for social justice and a world beyond capitalism.
More than six decades after America’s post-World War II occupation of Japan officially ended, more than 50,000 US troops remain there. Over half of them are stationed on Okinawa, an island with a population of 1.3 million, which the United States values as a strategic base close to China and North Korea.
Although few people outside of Japan know about it, demonstrations go on daily against the thirty-two US military bases and forty-eight training sites on Okinawa, which occupy about a fifth of the island’s land. The protests have been a feature of Okinawan life since the beginning of the US occupation in 1945 (which officially ended for most of the country in 1952, but not for Okinawa until two decades later).
From time to time the discontent has exploded into massive street demonstrations, often in response to violent crimes connected to military personnel, such as the 1995 rape of a twelve-year-old girl by three American soldiers and the 2016 rape and murder of a twenty-year-old woman by a former marine working as a contractor for the US military.
In the late 1990s, the US military and Japanese government announced plans to build a new helipad in the far north of Okinawa and relocate the aging Futenma air base to the Henoko district of Nago, a city near the island’s centre.
For a time, fierce public opposition stymied those plans, but after the conservative government of Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe took power in 2012, the work moved ahead. The plans for Henoko involve the expansion of the Marine Corps base already there, Camp Schwab, and the construction of a military runway in the waters of Oura Bay, which critics say will destroy coral reef and seagrass essential to the survival of aquatic life like dugongs, a manatee-like species of marine mammal.
Japan has remained militarily dependent on the United States ever since the postwar occupation, when it was forced to accept a new constitution banning it from building offensive forces, and its government has long supported the establishment of US military bases throughout the region.
Hiroshi Inaba, a sixty-seven-year-old Japanese peace activist, received an eight-month suspended prison sentence last year because of his work protesting the US military presence on Okinawa.
He told the Shoal journalists: “After the war, the US government thought that Okinawa could be a keystone in their policy against China. US occupation on the island lasted for twenty-seven years, and people used the dollar note. Okinawa wasn’t returned to Japan until 1972.
“More than 70 percent of US bases in Japan are in Okinawa. Okinawan people don’t want the US base construction, but they’re not being listened to. People here deserve democracy and human rights.
“Some people protest because they’re upset about nature being destroyed—others because of the noise pollution at night from the Osprey military helicopter flights, or because of the lack of democracy, or because [their] relatives were raped by US soldiers.
“Tell people what’s happening in Okinawa—that’s the thing I want people to do the most. A lot of people here can’t speak English, so they can’t tell the outside world what’s going on.”
How would the CIA go about making sure nobody in the English-speaking world could read a book which revealed some uncomfortable truths about its operations?
“It’s an old lesson that blacklisting and publicly banning books is counter-productive, and often leads to stronger sales long-term,” comments someone investigating this very issue.
A much better approach, they suggest, is to quietly “capture and kill” the offending volume. “This method requires a fake publisher, who acquires the rights and then simply refuses to sell the book.”
This seems to have been what has happened to a German best-seller by Udo Ulfkotte, the former editor of the well-known Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
His book Gekaufte Journalisten (Bought Journalists) drew on his own experiences in corporate media to explain how its editors are totally under the control of the neoliberal system. Those who do not play along either cannot get jobs at any news organization, or find their careers cut short.
Ulfkotte admitted himself collaborating with this US-led manipulation of “news” by planting stories in the media for the CIA.
He talked in English about his experiences of being wooed by powerful “Translatlantic organisations”, and his decision to go public, in this TV interview.
The book was a big hit in Germany and an English version, called Journalists for Hire: How the CIA Buys the News, was supposedly published in May 2017 by US-Canadian publisher Tayen Lane.
But it has never become available and Tayen Lane have not been forthcoming with information.
German publishers Kopp Verlag apparently told one enquirer: “Unfortunately, after signing the contract we have not heard from Tayen Lane, our letters and emails have gone unanswered.”
An American resident who became interested in the case recently searched out Tayen Lane’s offices and reported: “It was no surprise their office doesn’t actually exist. There’s no trace of Tayen Lane anywhere at the address they give.
“Conclusion: A fake publisher has quietly ‘captured and killed’ a German best-seller. How many other books are disappeared in a similar way? No one knows, except the ones doing the censoring.”
Udo Ulfkotte died from a heart attack on 13 January 2017 at the age of 56, while awaiting US publication of his book.
May 31, 2018. After we published the above article (last night) it was kindly brought to our attention that Udo Ulfkotte became notorious in his later years for his derisive comments about immigrants in Germany. We still think that the story of his book is worth telling, but we want to make it clear that we in no way support his anti-immigrant views and are not presenting him as any kind of political hero!
Five years after Winter Oak published his first book, The Anarchist Revelation, Paul Cudenec has set out the basic elements of the personal version of eco-anarchist philosophy he is developing in the face of a “hostile intellectual environment”.
He writes: “I regard industrialism as a facet of capitalism and therefore something that is necessarily anathema to anarchists. I wouldn’t term myself a ‘primitivist’, but I certainly hope for an end to the nightmare of industrial society and for a future where people can live in harmony with the natural world, growing and producing according to the needs of the community rather than for the profits of an exploitative few.
“I advocate a future society based not on money, economic ‘growth’ and technological ‘progress’, but on values. These values would be anarchist, of course – co-operation, equality and non-domination – but also, more broadly, involve the respect and appreciation of nature, beauty, quality, authenticity, simplicity, honesty, integrity and dignity.
“I am seeking to piece together a philosophy founded on nature and on our belonging to nature. This seems to frighten some urban-minded anarchists, but was in fact very much what Kropotkin was working on, particularly in Ethics.
“By a philosophy of nature, I don’t just mean environmentalist politics, but an understanding of the human mind, and the human culture it has created, founded on the fact that we are one small part of a greater organic whole, usually called ‘nature’. Our innermost mental structures and tendencies reflect that belonging: it is the canvas on which our human culture is painted.”
He explains he is consciously pursuing a holistic approach, focusing on “interconnections and correspondences” and the idea that we belong to a dynamic and living universe: “This is anarchist metaphysics! What could be more empowering, philosophically or politically, than realising that you are a temporary manifestation of a great organic whole, with all the freedom and responsibility this involves?”
A radical political space was briefly opened in central London on Sunday May 27. Kurdistan Place was occupied by friends of Anna Campbell in solidarity with the Kurdish Freedom Movement. In a statement, the occupiers said: “We want this space to enable learning about Kurdish culture and Kurdish liberation’s emancipatory politics. We also want this space to enable solidarity and anti-capitalist organising.” The first meeting there was held by the Anarchist Action Network and there were workshops on Kurdish language and dance plus a talk on anti-fascism before it was announced by @KurdistanPlace on Twitter that the occupation was ending on May 31.
* * *
European police launched a new wave of repression against anti-capitalists on May 29, raiding addresses in Italy, Spain, France and Switzerland in connection with last year’s protests against the G20 in Hamburg, Germany. German public broadcaster NDR reported that apartments in Rome, Genoa, and Madrid were among those searched, including properties “linked to the left-wing scene”. The “Black Bloc” task force in Germany has been combing through police footage, CCTV recordings and private videos with the help of facial recognition software and geolocation data to track down dissidents.
* * *
Protests against the 2018 G7 summit are due to get underway in Quebec City on June 8. Says the antiG7 site: “For the beginning of the G7 Summit, the elites of the world will gather in La Malbaie, isolated in their ivory tower protected by more than half a billion in security costs. They might as well stay there! Everyone in the world will be better off without them and that is why we intend to cut ties with the people creating our misery. Come join us! Meet us at 7:30AM SHARP in the parking lot of the Normandin on the corner of the François-De Laval and Sainte-Anne boulevards, in the Beauport borough, 5km northeast of downtown Quebec City.”
* * *
A celebration of 50 years of resistance, campaigning and alternatives for a better world, despite 50 years of police opposition, spying and repression, is being staged in London in July. It will include a rally in Grosvenor Square at 1pm on Saturday July 7 and a conference and exhibition at Conway Hall, Red Lion Square, on Sunday July 8.
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Ineos’s fracking protest injunction will be challenged at appeal court, after campaigners won their latest legal battle. Joe Corre (left) and Joe Boyd have described the move to stop protests as “unprecedented” and “draconian”. The injunction criminalises trespass and what is described as “unlawful and unreasonable obstruction of the highway”, including slow walking, climbing on vehicles and lock-on protests. Breaching the order risks prison, fines or seizure of assets. With Cuadrilla about to try the same approach, and the government threatening to remove decision-making on fracking from local authorities, the fracking mafia are clearly worried that the resistance is winning…
* * *
A discussion on Radical Ecology is being staged by the UK’s Anarchist Federation in east London on Saturday June 9, as part of its AntiUniversity programme. It is taking place from 4pm to 6pm at Doomed Gallery, 65-67 Ridley Road, Dalston, E8 2NP.
* * *
An analysis of the rise and future of the degrowth movement has been published by The Ecologist. Federico Demaria summarises the way that the French activist term décroissance entered the English-speaking world as ‘degrowth’ and the way it has been developing over the last decade, through various networks. He adds: “The alliances among these networks, and networks of networks, are fundamental to weave the alternatives and foster a deeply radical socio-ecological transformation. We could imagine it as a rhizome of resistance and regeneration.”
* * *
Acorn quote: “Men once believed that the establishment of universal suffrage would guarantee the freedom of the people. That, alas, was a great illusion…”
A civil war is breaking out between the neoliberal system and anyone who dares to resist its global stranglehold on power and wealth.
The insight came this week from a supporter of the Zad autonomous zone at Notre-Dame-des-Landes in France, as an army of cops were sent in by the French state to destroy it, even though Macron’s government has abandoned plans to build a new airport there (see Acorn 40).
But it could have come from one of the many student occupations against the neoliberal French state, which have been coming under increasing attack from gangs of fascist thugs tacitly encouraged by the authorities, or indeed from the railway workers striking in the face of a Thatcher-style assault on the trade union movement.
It could equally have come from Kurdistan, from Palestine, from Catalonia, from Brazil… All across the world the “democratic” gloves are coming off, the “news” is revealing itself to be nothing but desperate propaganda, the “freedom” capitalism claims to deliver is being exposed to one and all as a hollow lie.
Dissident individuals challenging the Empire are systematically victimised, smeared and marginalised, while rebel movements are repressed with brute violence.
The attack on the Zad began under cover of darkness, in the early hours of Monday April 9. This long-planned assault involves 2,500 militaristic gendarmes, armoured vehicles, lorries, cattle trucks, helicopters, and hundreds of riot police on stand-by in nearby Nantes and Rennes.
Said Hervé Kempf on the Reporterre website: “The disproportionate means being used shows that what is being lived out at the Zad threatens the neoliberal system: the possibility of existing in a different way, of choosing co-operation rather than competition, of organising ourselves without hierarchies, of resolving conflicts with the police or judicial system, of sharing the commons in harmony with what we call nature, of living simply, of freeing ourselves from the servitude of money…
“Has this been achieved at the Zad? You couldn’t say that. But we are really trying and there is plenty of evidence to show that there truly is a magnificent alternative there, a window opened in the suffocating wall of capitalism. The mission of the 2,500 robocops sent by the banker president is to destroy all possibility of living differently.
“And it goes further than that. What’s happening at Notre-Dame-des-Landes is part of a general war being waged by the oligarchy against the world’s peoples. Current headlines show us how Lula, the spokesperson for the Brazilian poor, has been imprisoned after a bizarre legal process, or how the Israeli state has killed protesters and journalists in the Gaza Strip. These are the latest outbursts of a global wave of authoritarianism on the part of the ruling classes. Almost the whole of Latin America (Brazil, China, Argentina, Peru, Guatemala…) has come under the control of hardline regimes imposing the neoliberal agenda.
“In Egypt, in the Philippines, in Poland, in India, in dozens of countries, we find this same powerful force being used to defend the interests of the oligarchy and destroy the environment in the name of growth. Europe is moving more and more towards this new model of authoritarian oligarchy. A global civil war is in fact breaking out, a war being waged by the ruling classes against peoples dazzled in the headlights of globalisation and against any pockets of resistance to the capitalists’ shock strategy.”
“A person alienated from nature is alienated from and is destroying himself, and no system has shown this connection more clearly than capitalist modernity.
“The connections between the market economy, exploitation, destruction of nature, war and migration show what the result is when centralist and hierarchical systems try to subjugate nature.
“Instead of tackling the cause of the destruction of nature, capitalism itself, the symptoms are treated instead. The land must be defended or there will not be a place for the revolution.”
With the tragedy of the fall of Afrin to Turkish forces, and the death of Anna Campbell, a much-loved anarchist comrade from Sussex, these words from the Internationalist Commune of Rojava are a reminder of what is at stake in Kurdistan.
As at Notre-Dame-des-Landes, or in Chiapas, we have been witnessing one of those rare and beautiful flowerings of human autonomy and hope in the face of the relentless Machine of profit, greed and war that is destroying life and happiness in our world.
While sometimes the forces of Empire are happy to exploit certain struggles for their own short-term ends, they know they cannot allow them to flourish and thus encourage others.
They will always try to crush the tender shoots of resistance, unleashing their mercenary thugs and fascist puppets against us.
But resistance is life itself. It renews, shoots back up through the cracks in the capitalist concrete, time and time again, in different places, different generations, different forms.
Nobody struggles in vain. Nobody suffers in vain. Nobody dies in vain. Every banner waved, every street reclaimed, every offensive launched, is another seed planted in the soil of our victory over the capitalist system.
A call-out has been made for resistance to the 2018 G7 summit in Québec.
The neoliberal capitalist showpiece is taking place from June 8 to 9, and will convene seven of the most powerful countries in the world at the Manoir Richelieu in La Malbaie.
Say the anti-G7 resistance network in Montreal: “If we don’t choose to resist the State and the Bosses, we’re setting ourselves up once more for a passive role in the pageantry of this large-scale spectacle.
“In a luxurious manor protected by fences and the police, these misogynists will talk about gender equality; these militarists will talk about peace; these capitalists will talk about ecology – all without any effort to consult us.
“What the G7 Summits actually do is decide the world organization of the capitalist economy according to the interests of the banks, and the oil, agri-food, pharmaceutical, technological, armaments, and other large conglomerates.
“The G7 is proving to be one of the neoliberal states’ symbolic meetings that legitimize the richest 1% of the world’s population by creating and maintaining social and economic inequalities.
“All over the world, the workers, the unemployed, the stateless, the exploited, and those left behind in the capitalist system are indignant at this farce that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, and refuse to let it be legitimized by those who benefit from it.
“We believe it is time to unite and refuse this absurdity to make our voices heard. It is time to mobilize, to protest, and to resist the system manipulated by the privileged!
“The status quo is death. Capitalism is creating global apartheid, imperialist war, and the destruction of life on Earth. Fear has to switch sides: let’s make our affinity groups and protest in June, together, against the G7.”
The RRAG7 will hold a festive collective march against the G7, extractivism, and borders in the evening on Thursday, June 7 in Quebec City. It is also calling for a day of disruption of the G7 summit on Friday, June 8 in the Quebec City area.
An English-language anti-G7 journal can be found here.
Acorn readers will probably have noticed for themselves that the UK media have been in all-out propaganda mode in recent weeks.
Whether it’s Syria or the Labour Party, Israel or Russia, the old-fashioned model of subtly biased journalism has been ditched in favour of a crude torrent of right-wing bile.
One enthusiastic participant in this wave of warmongering rhetoric has been a London outfit called 89up.
It describes itself as “Europe’s first impact agency”, adding: “We campaign for great causes, build technology, tackle complex problems & inspire action. We run campaigns to make the world a more open, pluralistic, and democratic place. Our services ensure that charities, NGOs and not-for-profits make real change.”
89up weighed into the “great cause” of whipping up hatred of Russia in February by submitting a report to MPs investigating the role of “fake news” which claimed that “Russian propaganda” had been crucial in the Brexit vote.
Tellingly, The Daily Maildescribed 89up not as an “impact agency” but as a “communication and social media analytics company”, creating the impression that they were somehow merely professional observers.
Then in March, 89up hit the headlines again with another fab idea for making the world “a more open, pluralistic, and democratic place”.
It was such a “great cause”, that 89up’s boss Michael Harris couldn’t resist congratulating himself on Twitter for having got it into The Daily Mirror. “I am so proud of this”, he boasted.
And what was the plan? Taking legal action to stop those dreadful Russians from hosting the World Cup this summer.
Sadly for Harris, the British public seemed to find this marvellous cause less than inspiring – at the time of writing, the first 11 days of fundraising had notched up a mere £90 of 89up’s £10,000 goal.
Harris was back in action on April 3, tweeting indignantly against any idea that the UK shouldn’t have escalated tensions against Russia in the absence of any actual evidence showing that they were behind the Salisbury poison case.
He profited from the opportunity to have a dig at the Labour Party, in language reminiscent of the Cold War propaganda against the USSR.
“So the UK shouldn’t have ‘escalated tensions’? Bearing in mind how pathetic the British government’s response was, calls for a weaker response by a Labour MP will be music to the Kremlin’s ears”
So the UK shouldn't have "escalated tensions"? Bearing in mind how pathetic the British government's response was, calls for a weaker response by a Labour MP will be music to the Kremlin's ears https://t.co/2hHUMNd1RS
Harris is the sole director of 89up, which owns Little Atoms, a magazine which defines its “duty” as “defending rationalism, science and free inquiry” and appears at first glance to be vaguely on the left.
However it in fact purveys a strangely skewed view of the world, as we remarked back in 2015.
In particular, its writers particularly resent any criticism of the USA and the neoliberal system it champions. And, of course, they can always be relied on to despise Uncle Sam’s current enemies, whether that be Putin, Assad or Corbyn.
So where exactly is Michael Harris coming from?
In a 2016 newspaper article extolling the virtues of billionaire George Soros, Harris felt obliged to declare an interest, admitting: “Yes, many of the campaigns I’ve worked on previously have been part-funded by Soros”.
His admiration for his sponsor remains intact in 2018. Harris tweeted on February 7 that Soros “is in my humble opinion one of the 20th centuries [sic] great heroes”.
Indeed, 89up’s site boasts that it was “the sole communications agency for Best for Britain”, the “Remain” pressure group funded by Soros.
Beyond that, Harris’s LinkedIn profile declares that he has “excellent political and media connections, with a strong knowledge of the workings of government and international bodies”.
This rather vague statement is obviously open to more than one interpretation.
His profile also states that he is “one of only two Britons to be selected for the prestigious US State Department ‘Young Leaders of the Future’ programme”.
A couple of top days out for anarchists are coming up. On Sunday May 6 there is the Norwich Anarchist Bookfair, from 2pm to 11pm at Bedfords Crypt, 1 Old Post Office Yard, Bedford Street, NR2 1SL. Then on Saturday May 12 it’s the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair, 11am to 6pm at City Academy, Russell Town Avenue.
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“It is time to name the disease. Capitalism is a cancer. And the only way to defeat this cancer is to completely transform our way of living and our way of thinking about ourselves.” So says US actor and activist James Cromwell in this online video interview.
* * *
Seven myths about the police have usefully been outlined on the Gatorna website. 1. The police exercise legitimate authority. 2. The police are ordinary workers just like us; they should be our allies. 3. Maybe there are some bad apples, but some police officers are good people. 4. Police can win any confrontation, so we shouldn’t antagonize them. 5. Police are a mere distraction from the real enemy, not worth our wrath or attention. 6. We need police to protect us. 7. Resisting the police is violent—it makes you no better than them. Go to the site to see these myths duly debunked.
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Power Trip: Fracking in the UK is new hour-long video from Undercurrents which goes on to the frontlines of UK resistance to the toxic industry, from Sussex to Lancashire. It can be seen online here and there are public screenings on Thursday April 12 at SOAS university London, Thursday April 26 in Pulborough, Sussex, Wednesday May 9 in Manchester (TBC), Friday May 18 at St Paul’s West Hackney, London and the weekend of May 19-20 at Wood festival, Oxfordshire. To arrange a local screening contact Undercurrents via their website.
* * *
Tuesday April 17 is International Day of Peasants’ Struggles and there will be a protest in Brussels under the slogan “Free Farmers from Free Trade Agreements! MERCOSUR, CETA, JEFTA are a deathblow!” Say organisers: “Breaches of peasant rights, which outrageously happen on a daily basis, are on the rise due to free trade agreements which only serve the interests of multinationals.” The protest starts at 9am at the Belgian city’s Schuman Roundabout.
* * *
The nightmare assault on our countryside being carried out in the name of technological advance has reached new levels. It has now emerged that bringing high-speed mobile phone coverage and internet to rural Britain will require at least 400,000 extra masts, many of which will need to be 80ft high, experts have predicted. And this will all be in the name of 5G, which is aimed to imprison us within a totalitarian Internet of Things, involving everything from automated cars to smart meters tracking and controlling every detail of our home lives.
* * *
England! I fucking weep for you. England, I could have died for you. But
Lazy corruption and the acceptance of third-rate propaganda has done for you
Eaten away at you…
And the Jerusalem of Blake’s imaginings
Has become a Photostat of an apartheid state
Third-rate, mean-spirited and devoid of blissful dreaming
Panic Room by The Mighty Ur
* * *
Acorn quote: “The acceptance of progress meant replacing faith in the wisdom of our ancestors by the conviction of their ignorance”.
The fight against fracking in the north of England is to be dramatically intensified with three months of intense direct action against the sinister and toxic industry.
The newly-launched United Resistance group is promising significant levels of activity, starting in April, when Cuadrilla says it expects to begin fracking at its Preston New Road site near Blackpool.
Say United Resistance: “The situation is urgent and it is only a united and powerful resistance that will halt fracking before it’s too late – and we’re on the threshold of it being too late.
“If the industry performs a ‘frack job’ then the damage is done and stopping them becomes a far greater challenge.
“Sites across the UK are making a stand with residents taking part in community meetings, rallies and non-violent direct actions; here in Lancashire, we know that Cuadrilla intends on pushing the chemicals, silica sand and vast quantities of water underground between April and July.”
“We are asking nothing more of you than your body and if you can’t bring us this… then your online shares, letter writing, local actions and events… but mostly, we need you here with us for any part of three months of targeted resistance starting 2nd April 2018.”
Campaigner Tina Rothery’s blog reveals that the initiative will see different groups ‘adopting’ a week each in order to bring about maximum resistance to the fracking industry.
She says: “The first week has been adopted by the women of Nanashire as well as women from the weekly Call for Calm, the local area, other groups and camps”.
Tina calls on women to take time off work and arrange care so that they can be available at Preston New Road in Lancashire “to exercise our lawful right to peaceful protest and non-violent action”.
Meanwhile, in Yorkshire, Frack Free Ryedale and Frack Free United have organised a series of talks in eight villages about INEOS’s shale gas exploration plans in the area – for full details see the Drill or Drop website.
Opponents of fracking point to the large number of fracking bans, moratoria and restrictions across Europe, “every single one of them powered by ordinary people standing up against a corrupt political system”.
As one local group in Yorkshire put it: “We can do this – standing together against fracking is the only way we can make a difference and stop the destruction of our beautiful villages and countryside”.
There are strong signs that the battle is winnable. When Conservative-controlled Derbyshire County Council rejected INEOS plans to explore for shale gas at Bramleymoor Lane in the village of Marsh Lane on Monday February 5, it was the fourth time in under a fortnight that an English council had opposed shale gas plans.
The message is clear and simple: people power can defeat fracking. And the death-breathing industrial capitalist dragon of which it is just one poisonous fang.
2. An airport defeated, a capitalist system still to be toppled
A huge victory party is being staged at Notre-Dame-des-Landes near Nantes in France on Saturday February 10, after the French state finally abandoned plans to build a new airport there after 50 years of resistance and occupation.
Now the struggle will revolve around resisting the authorities’ declared intention of evicting the ZAD autonomous zone which was the focal point of the successful long-term campaign.
There has already been a reaction amongst more radical campaigners against the idea that now the airport has been scrapped, everyone can pack up and go home happy.
Said one statement: “True, the airport project has been abandoned… Certainly, it is a victory for the struggle against the airport of Notre-Dame-des-Landes.
“But many of us have fought and supported the struggle against the airport and its world. The capitalist world, to tell the truth, the world of economic and social inequalities, the world of oppression and exclusion. Is this struggle victorious? And if it is not, how can it still radiate towards other struggles against useless and imposed mega projects?
“Since January 17, we are no longer fighting against this airport, but we are still fighting against its world and its allies. What is happening now in this struggle is also happening in many other struggles, environmental or social.”
The ZAD Forever website says, regarding February 10: “We will celebrate the fact that this unique landscape of forests, fields and wetlands will never be turned into a giant machine for burning the climate, never!
“It is also is a victory of all those who have put their bodies in the way of the machines for decades, a victory for a truly popular movement that brought so many differences together into a rich composition, a victory for an unimaginable diversity of tactics from sabotage to petition writing, direct action to mass demos, it a victory for all those who live on within this bocage (the name of this specific type of landscape, a rich chequerboard of small fields, hedgerows and forests) and are trying to reinvent forms of life together, despite capitalism and the state.
“The 10th of February will a day to celebrate the burying of the project, to show that the ZAD is here to stay, that we are going to continue to grow roots deep down into this territory and to demonstrate our solidarity with other struggles against destructive projects around the world”.
People are being invited to bring saplings, bushes and shrubs to plant and enrich the hedgerows and to come dressed for carnival in Green One style.
“Marching bands, a giant fire-breathing salamander and other mythical beasts, will lead the crowds through the zone towards a convergence point where everyone is invited to put effigies (in wood, paper or cardboard) of unwanted projects against which they are resisting into a giant bonfire with a big surprise at its heart ! With a plethora of musicians, bands and invited Dj’s, we will dance and feast together late into the night.”
The joint press release put out by a range of airport opponents on January 17 declared: “This is an historical victory against a destructive project. This was made possible thanks to a long mobilisation that has been both diverse and determined.
“First of all, we’d like to sincerely thank everyone that mobilised against this airport project over the past 50 years.
“As regard to the future of the ZAD, the whole movement would like to confirm the following points:
“The need for the farmers and people that were expropriated to recover their rights as soon as possible
“The refusal of any eviction of those who came here over the last few years to live and defend the place, and who wish to continue living here and look after the area.
“The will to let the various actors of the struggle (farmers, naturalists, locals, groups, people that have lived here for a long time or have just joined us) handle, on the long term, the land/fields of the ZAD.”
More light has been shed on the murky network of dodgy organisations behind the current anti-Russian and “fake news” hysteria, designed (as we explained in Acorn 39) as the perfect pretext for a fascistic clamp-down on all online news and views unwelcome to the global capitalist elite.
On this side of the Atlantic, it has emerged that the European Commission’s “High Level Expert Group” investigating unauthorised news is, as the anti-capitalist commentator Civic Critic points out, “made up of Google, Facebook and Twitter employees, plus appointees chosen by centrist US-aligned media”.
And in the USA on January 10 a significant Senate report on the subject was unveiled, which dresses up its real agenda with a flurry of inflated claims about Russia’s “malign influence operations”.
Corporate media such as CNN faithfully lapped all this up, of course, and gushed obligingly about “Russia’s arsenal of military invasions, disinformation campaigns and corruption, and its weaponization of energy resources”.
But, more significantly, the report calls on companies such as Facebook and Twitter to be held more “accountable” because “social media platforms are a key conduit of disinformation that undermines democracies”.
Read that last quote again! This is chilling stuff. In neoliberal language, “disinformation campaigns” which “undermine democracies” of course include factual reports which happen to reveal inconvenient truths about US military and economic global domination.
The agenda is clear. The genie of uncensored information unleashed by the internet is threatening neoliberal power and must urgently be pushed back into the totalitarian bottle of elite control.
The “who” and “where” of the Senate report’s presentation are also useful indicators of the political agenda which fuels its claims.
It was unveiled to the world by veteran US Democrat politician Ben Cardin, whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s forthcoming election opponent.
Cardin is known for his vehemently pro-Israel stance. As The Interceptpoints out, “Cardin’s crowning achievement came last year when he authored a bill that would have made it a felony to support a boycott of Israel”.
And the “where”? Cardin launched the report at the HQ of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, which, as we reported in Acorn 39, has been leading the propaganda campaign against so-called fake news, partly through its front organisation, the Alliance for Securing Democracy.
Following on from our articles, we have been pointed towards some further fascinating information about the GMF on the Powerbase website.
It notes that the GMF was conceived during the Cold War to tie Europe to the United States and was “a breeding ground for journalists, university students and politicians committed to Atlantism”.
The GMF was set up in 1972 at a time of widespread protest against the US war in Vietnam, it adds. The Red Army Fraction had just attacked the US Army HQ in Heidelberg to destroy the strategic computer that controlled its bombers in South-East Asia.
“It was also the time of the strategy of tension whereby NATO secret services manipulated right and left-wing factions to encourage a more authoritarian government.
“The idea behind the Fund was that it would facilitate the identification and recruitment of new ‘messengers of Atlantism’. With the collapse of the cold war the neoconservatives have reactivated the Atlantic networks, to use in their own project dominated by two terms coined by Joseph Nye: ‘Neo-liberalism’ and ‘soft power’.”
In the light of all this, it comes as little surprise to discover, on a close reading of the report, that talk of the so-called “threat” from Russia is nothing but a thinly-disguised geopolitical call for action to defend US global corporate imperialism.
It claims, for instance, that bogeyman Putin has “made it a priority of his regime to attack the democracies of Europe and the United States and undermine the transatlantic alliance upon which Europe’s peace and prosperity have depended upon for over 70 years”.
It also says the US government should continue to oppose the construction of their rivals’ Nord Stream 2 pipeline, “a project which significantly undermines the long-term energy security of Europe and the economic prospects of Ukraine”.
So that’ll be the famous “weaponization of energy resources” – moves which undermine European states’ complete dependence on the US capitalist system.
The same twisted Cold War mentality also sees the report claim that the European anti-fracking movement is being secretly supported by the Russians, in order to keep the continent “more dependent on Russian supplies”.
And all the talk of “fake news” really concerns a propaganda war being waged by the US to maintain the economic, military and cultural occupation of Europe, originally just Western Europe, that it has maintained since the end of the Second World War.
When the report writes of “disinformation and conspiracy theories that seek to undermine European institutions like the EU and NATO” that’s what it’s all about. Control. From the US imperialist point of view, any information that threatens its interests is automatically “disinformation”. Any analysis of the underhand activities of the CIA, NATO etc is automatically “conspiracy theories”. Any news it doesn’t like is automatically “fake news”.
The talk of dastardly Russian attempts to “break centrist consensus” by supporting “extreme” political parties reflects US fears that its own placemen (“centrists” like Tony Blair and Emmanuel Macron) will no longer be able to ensure that Europe is under the American military-corporate thumb.
The language is coded but nevertheless clear. “Democratic” always translates as “capitalist”, while “transatlantic values” refer to the US strings attached to European puppet-politics, as in the statement that “Merkel’s Germany has led the defense of transatlantic values that underlie open, democratic societies”.
The report makes it plain that any method is considered fair in this propaganda war in defence of the US Empire, talking blatantly about creating “narratives” that suit US objectives.
It states at one point: “The RAND analysts also recommend not just countering the actual propaganda, but its intended effects. For example, if the Kremlin is trying to undercut support for a strong NATO response to Russian aggression, then the West should promote narratives that strengthen support for NATO and promote solidarity with NATO members facing threats from Russia.”
So what would “promoting a narrative” involve, then? Inventing threats from Russia to drum up support for NATO? It certainly sounds that way!
It’s interesting to note that the report itself does not talk about the US publishing information, as in true information, to counter “Russian disinformation”, but rather something called “counter-disinformation”.
The hub for this, it tells us, is the Global Engagement Center, within the State Department, which is “tasked with coordinating counter-disinformation efforts across the US government”.
It includes personnel from the Department of Defense, Department of Treasury, National Security Agency, National Counterterrorism Center, the Broadcasting Board of Governors and, of course, the CIA.
In case there were any lingering doubts about what kind of “fake news” and “disinformation” the CIA and its chums are keen to stamp out, there are a couple of telling mentions of President Macron of France, a particular favourite of the neoliberal establishment.
The report complains that “during the French presidential elections, Sputnik reported on unfounded rumors about the sexual preferences of the pro-EU candidate, Emmanuel Macron”.
It adds later: “Reports disseminated by these outlets and on pro-Kremlin social media had variously decried Macron as a puppet of US political and business leaders, alleged he held an offshore account in the Bahamas to evade taxes, and fueled rumors of an extra-marital gay relationship, which Macron publicly denied.”
Obviously any suggestion that Macron is a puppet of the US (and in fact a product of the US Marshall Memorial Fellowship scheme!) is the sort of dreadful slander that should never be allowed to see the light of day in any self-respecting freedom-loving centrist democracy, committed to transatlantic values.
A powerful backlash is underway against the ideological sabotage which has been undermining anti-capitalism for the last few decades.
Since the turn of the century, radical political thought in the West has increasingly been infected by self-defeating tendencies which destroy its coherency and energy from the inside.
But now it is starting to shake off the debilitating intellectual malady and is reasserting its own inspiring vision of a world beyond capitalism.
People are turning their backs on the defeatist analysis that suggests there is no point in identifying and opposing the current system and its ruling class.
They are refusing to sign up to an ultra-liberal pseudo-radical agenda which promotes individualism in a fake-leftist guise and which can only imagine collective levels of oppression and resistance within the limits of the intersectionality of purely individual experiences.
One important recent intervention came from the anarchist thinker Miguel Amorós in the course of two talks in Mexico in November.
Here he strongly criticised postmodernism, which he described as the first ever philosophy not to be based on the love of truth. Instead it relativises the idea, regarding it as a mere “construct” – something artificial and with no real foundation.
The logical conclusion of this kind of thinking, he warns, is that no universal value or concept will be considered valid. “Being, reason, justice, equality, solidarity, community, humanity, revolution and emancipation will all be classed as ‘essentialist’, in other words as ‘pro-nature’ abominations”.
Amorós noted that, although it pretends to be radical and has infected anarchist thinking, the postmodern philosophy amounts to “nihilism in harmony with the Markets, for which anything without economic value is of little importance”.
The contemporary “intersectional game of oppressed minorities” is replacing a collective resistance to established power, warned Amorós.
He said this was the latest stage of a historical sabotage of authentic opposition to industrial capitalism, that had begun at the end of the 1960s.
“Once the revolutionary subject had been neutralised in practice, it had to be suppressed in theory, so that its struggles might remain isolated, marginalised and incomprehensible, wrapped up in a brain-sapping, self-referential waffle designed only for the initiated. That was the task of French Theory.”
A similar message comes in an article by Sandra C. in the French-language anti-capitalist bulletin Négatif, in which she condemns the “insidious influence exerted on left-wing circles for many years by the postmodernist theory and cultural studies”.
Sandra C. writes: “By abandoning the concept of exploitation in favour of an analysis based on relationships of domination, by abandoning universalism for a defence of particularism and by abandoning the idea of a revolutionary and universal proletariat, so-called radical activists find themselves far away, poles apart even, from the emancipatory politics they claim as their own.”
She describes postcolonialism as closely linked to postmodernism and criticises the attitudes associated with what is sometimes known as critical whiteness.
She says: “It is disconcerting to see so-called revolutionaries, taking on board a collective guilt for colonial exploitation and its crimes and feeling shamefully ‘European’, ‘French’, ‘white’ and ‘privileged’. Self-assigned identity-based labels dressed up with guilt are not the way to emancipation and are in fact just mirror images of the identities claimed by the extreme right.”
Elsewhere, US-based journalist and writer Andre Vltchek condemned the anti-revolutionary thinking of the contemporary Western left in a blog article on February 3.
He writes: “The European left betrayed as early as in the 1980’s, by becoming too soft, too undisciplined, too cautious and too self-centered. It put pragmatism above the ideals. It rapidly adopted the lexicon of the liberal ideological establishment, complete with Western perceptions of human rights, democratic principles and political correctness.
“It ceased to be revolutionary; it essentially stopped all revolutionary activities, and it abandoned the core element of any true left-wing identity – internationalism.”
Vltchek adds: “The Western left is much more part of the West than of the left.”
A German-language diagram has also been circulating on social media which draws a distinction between the “traditional” and the “new” left.
It contrasts the traditional left’s struggle on behalf the majority of the population with the new left’s over-emphasis on minorities.
The traditional left is internationalist, calling for the workers of the world to unite against capitalism, but the new left tends to be globalist in the liberal sense, it says.
Whereas the traditional left is anti-fascist, anti-imperialist and anti-war, seeing fascism and militarism as aspects of the capitalist system, the phoney liberal left swallows the lie that there could be such a thing as a “humanitarian” war and that states which do not bow down to Western interests are basically dictatorships, fascist regimes that “we” have a moral duty to oppose.
The traditional left has always been against the power of financial capital, but for the new liberal left this position smacks of anti-Americanism, even anti-Semitism.
Freedom of opinion has always been a mainstay of traditional left-wing thought, since the Enlightenment, but the new left denies this freedom to any thinking which strays outside of its own values, the values of “the West”, it is further claimed.
The suggested differences between these two kinds of “left” stem from differences in ways of seeing the world and don’t necessarily apply to practical policies and sympathies.
The “old left” is far from indifferent to the plight of refugees, for instance, but does not regard their situation as something outside of the general conditions of capitalism, against which it is already fighting.
It includes the need to help migrants and oppose racism within its left-wing vision of the world, but it does not fetishise and separate off this particular aspect of the overall struggle, leaving it open to reformist recuperation.
We should acknowledge, at this point, that, in the past and today, some anti-capitalists have paid lip service to the idea of racism but have avoided facing up to the reality of racism as experienced by individual people. They have not properly considered how this shapes their vision of society, social movements and anti-capitalist struggle.
But this criticism has clearly been taken too far when “left-wing” ideologies end up rejecting the universalism which has always been the bedrock of the left’s internationalism and anti-racism.
It is, in fact, quite mysterious how the postmodernist critique of universalism has so easily been swallowed by swathes of the so-called left.
The argument is based on the way that, historically, European colonialists described their own values as “universal” to justify imposing them on the rest of the world.
But it is false logic to claim that because the term “universal” was misused in this way, it therefore has no validity.
The idea of human universality should be fundamental to any socialist, anarchist or communist view of the world. This is the bedrock of our opposition to racism, nationalism and all the other excuses for separating people, dividing them into categories, deciding that some have more “rights” than others.
It is closely linked to the idea of equality. From a universalist perspective, all human beings are equal.
Right-wingers have always, of course, deliberately misunderstood the idea of equality. They try to pretend that it means left-wingers want to “make everyone the same”, to create some kind of faceless totalitarianism which imposes this terrible equality on us all.
They refuse to accept that equality is perfectly compatible with diversity and simply means acknowledging the theoretical equal value of every single human being, whatever their particular characteristics.
The postmodernist argument against universalism is, effectively, this same stupid right-wing argument! It deliberately presents universalism as a way of imposing a certain model on people, of destroying diversity in the name of some kind of central control.
But this is just not true. Universality, like equality, comes from below, from within humankind. There is a human universality which bonds us. There is a human equality which unites us. Left-wing, particularly anarchist, thinking understands and embraces this.
Throwing out universalism from the anti-capitalist world-view sabotages it at a fundamental level. Reclaiming universalism is therefore the first stage in renewing the international ideological and political struggle against capitalism and all the fragmented, incoherent, disempowering philosophies that it spawns.
Thousands of people protested in Switzerland in January against the World Economic Forum at Davos, and the presence of US President Donald Trump (see preview in Acorn 39). The venue hosting the global elite was protected by thousands of troops and protests there were banned on the flimsy pretext that there was “too much snow” in the Alpine resort.
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A big weekend of international solidarity with the struggle to defend Hambach Forest in Germany was staged on February 3 and 4. Reports Hambachforest.org: “From all across Germany, from Genoa, Amsterdam and Spain, from Bristol and countless other locations came solidarity demonstrations, soli photos , banner drops, actions and all other outpourings of support. The largest demo took place in Cologne. Large demonstrations also took part in Aachen and Essen.” Although tree felling is on temporary hold, the authorities are trying to evict the 20 tree-houses and 11 barrios which have been set up to block the mine’s expansion and levels of police repression are on the rise.
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Campaigners in Italy are trying to halt the environmentally-destructive Trans Adriatic Pipeline project, which aims to bring gas from Azerbaijan via Greece and Albania. On February 6 the EU’s bank EIB approved a €1.5bn loan for the controversial TAP project. Commented Friends of the Earth Europe: “This will keep Europe hooked on fossil fuels for decades – just when we should be kicking our fossil fuel addiction”. But the fight in Italy goes on. Said the NoTap campaign on February 7: “The day after EIB’s criminal decision to finance a huge useless and anachronistic project, the population continues to fight against the realization of TAP”.
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If you believed the industry’s propaganda, you’d probably imagine that opposition to fracking is a lot of fuss about nothing. The odd well here and there, what’s the problem? But can you imagine living in a town with 300 fracking wells, where asthma is rife and children can’t go out and play because of poison gas in the air? That’s the reality in the USA, where fracking has been allowed to get a hold, as illustrated in the excellent documentary Don’t Frack With Denton. A successful campaign earns a fracking ban, which is overturned by corrupt authorities, steering local activists towards direct action and anarchist principles. “We will be enforcing our ban here,” they declare. “Expect resistance!”
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The UK’s Anarchist Action Network is next meeting in Bristol, from 1pm to 4pm on Sunday March 11. The session is being held at “Resist!” (previously known as “Kebele Community Co-Op”), in Robertson Road. All anarchists welcome.
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A planned road tunnel past Stonehenge, England’s most important prehistoric site, could spell the loss of a unique site nearby, that can trace the presence of people back to 8000 BC, reports The Guardian. Warned David Jacques, an archaeologist at the University of Buckingham: “The intention is that an 8m high flyover will be built next to the site. One of trenches is only 2m away from the road. They seem prepared to carry on no matter what. It’s a scandal that this is being rushed through.”
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“In May 2015, a declassified Pentagon document provided shocking evidence that the US-led campaign in Syria not only contributed directly to the rise of the Islamic State (IS), but that Washington was perfectly satisfied with such an outcome.” This is one of ten “very curious facts” about ISIS published by Mint News Press on January 30. The rest are worth a look, as well.
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“The future of humanity is the struggle between humans that control machines and machines that control humans… Undetectable mass social influence powered by artificial intelligence is an existential threat to humanity.” This was the stark warning from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on January 18, 2018. But since he’s a known denier of transatlantic values, and a fugitive from liberal Western justice, everything he says can safely be dismissed as nothing more than extremist disinformation.
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Acorn quote: “The social distinction that counts most in the present state of things is that based on wealth, that is to say on a purely outward superiority of an exclusively quantitative order”.