The Acorn – 35

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Number 35


In this issue:

  1. “Welcome to hell!” Hamburg tells capitalist leaders
  2. Earth protectors: hundreds occupy Amsterdam coal harbour
  3. France: resisting the neoliberal police state
  4. Defiance in face of fracking onslaught
  5. The Green One is coming!
  6. Acorninfo

1. “Welcome to hell!” Hamburg tells capitalist leaders

Razor wire, water cannons and snipers are being lined up to protect the leaders of the capitalist world when they descend on Hamburg at the start of July.

The authorities are deploying 20,000 police to protect Trump, Putin, Erdogan, Merkel, May, Macron et al, turning the city into “a virtual fortress” under “something close to a state of emergency”, according to German media.

Summits like these were forced out of city centres 15 years ago by massive international anti-capitalist protests, with the global elite fleeing to inaccessible rural retreats.

But those in power now seem prepared to face the possible wrath of tens of thousands of opponents by holding the 2017 G20 Summit in downtown Hamburg.

The potential is clearly there for levels of resistance that would renew the energy of militant European anti-capitalism, as The Acorn previously pointed out back in November.

The authorities are of the same opinion.  Der Spiegel’s English-language website says officials are expecting up to 100,000 protesters “including militant groups seeking to disrupt or, if they can, prevent the summit”.

It adds: “The autonomous protest scene, which has a strong network across Europe, views the summit as a unique opportunity to restore their reputation within their political spectrum.

“Officials at the LKA [Landeskriminalamt] believe the radical anti-globalists will converge on summit sites from all directions in multiple prongs. If one prong fails to get through, the protesters hope another will be able to surmount the barriers.”

The article cites research conducted by Germany’s Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) as having detected activists in the Netherlands, the UK, Switzerland and Italy preparing to travel to the G20 summit. Other protest groups are expected from Austria and Greece, it says. And Kurds are likely to turn up in numbers to protest against Turkish leader Erdogan.

The authorities are, of course, rolling out their heavy weaponry to protect the powerful capitalist elite they serve. They are not only deploying miles of razor wire, but also water cannons, mounted police, dog units, snipers and “special forces”.

A new prison capable of hosting 400 people has kindly been laid on for protesters. The German federal police’s elite GSG 9 “counterterrorism” unit will also be in town.

Needless to say, extra-special protection is being laid on for the leader of the country which spearheads neoliberal capitalist imperialism – the USA. The Americans are even implying that they reserve the right to shoot dead any protesters getting in the way of Mr President.

Reports Der Spiegel:  “When U.S. President Donald Trump’s motorcade drives through the city, the streets will have to be empty. The doors of his Cadillac, nicknamed ‘The Beast’, are equipped with titanium armor and are as heavy as those of a Boeing 757 jet. The car even has its own oxygen system that can protect the president against a chemical weapons attack.

“The car has 8 tons of security technology and it cannot be allowed to come to any unplanned stops. Interior Senator Grote has already warned protesters against seeking to try and block Trump’s motorcade, saying nobody knows how the American Secret Service might react.”

Ahead of the summit, on Sunday July 2, there will be a symbolic and non-confrontational “wave of protest” with tens of thousands of people in the port city of Hamburg, on land and on the water.

Then on Thursday  July 6 there will be an international anti-capitalist demonstration against the G20 summit entitled “G20 Welcome to hell!“. This gathers at 4pm at the St Pauli Fischmarkt in Hamburg with a meeting involving cultural, musical and political contributions. From 7pm the demonstration will head towards the “red zone” and the final meeting will be held a stone’s throw from the summit’s location in the exhibition halls.

Friday July 7 will see the Hamburg City Strike, including the Block G20: Colour the Red Zone action; a bid to shut down Hamburg Harbour and with it the “logistics of Capital”;  a student strike and protest and a variety of surprise actions.

Then on Friday July 8, from 11am, there will be a mass demonstration with autonomous and anti-capitalist blocs.

As the Hamburg rebels say: “Don‘t let capitalism get you down – live resistance!”

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2. Earth protectors: hundreds occupy Amsterdam coal harbour

The fight against the ecocidal fossil fuel industry is stepping up, with an impressive mass civil disobedience action staged in the Netherlands on Saturday June 24.

Some 350 people occupied the coal harbour of Amsterdam, forcing it to shut down all activity for the day.

Said the Code Rood (Code Red) website: “We ruled the industry today, but the fight against the fossil industries continues.

“There is no time to lose. While the climate is already visibly changing and politicians allow for continued record-breaking greenhouse gas emissions we are building a militant climate movement that makes a switch from mass protest to mass disobedience.

“We are calling for everybody to join us in this collective struggle. When we join forces we can break the power of the fossil fuel industry!”

The successful action was linked to the nearby Climate Camp, which had opened two days previously.

The occupation did not go unopposed – protesters reported that once inside the site, they were sprayed with foul water “smelling of mud and manure”.

But more than 50 people managed to get to the top of a crane belonging to Coal Transport Terminal Amsterdam (OBA) with a banner declaring: ‘Robbers’ state is killing the climate.’

Wolfmann, one of the hundreds present who were taking part in a civil disobedience action for the first time, said: “It feels incredibly powerful and at the same time very vulnerable. You go with nothing other than your body to try and blockade the fossil fuel industry, that makes you feel vulnerable. At the same time you are with all these people and so you feel very strong together.”

Said another participant: “We are here because as long as there is profit to be made, they will not stop destroying the earth!”

A short video of the action can be seen here.  

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3. France: resisting the neoliberal police state

The way in which the neoliberal capitalist system uses the spectre of terrorism to impose its own social agenda has often been highlighted in The Acorn (such as here or here).

And one of the most blatant uses of this repressive device is currently unfolding in France, prompting urgent calls for resistance.

For the last 20 months, the country has been placed under a so-called “State of Emergency”. This legal device was first dreamed up in 1955, during the French state’s attempt to crush the anti-colonial Algerian Revolution.

60 years later it was rolled out again, in November 2015, in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Paris. Since then, it has been renewed no fewer than five times, using various excuses, and is currently due to expire in November 2017, two years after it was introduced.

Right from the start it was used not just against Muslim communities, but against anti-capitalist dissidents. Initially this was against activists organising around the COP 21 Summit in Paris – homes and social centres were raided and activists placed under house arrest, without charges, until the summit was over.

The authorities also shamelessly used these “anti-terrorist” powers to combat the massive wave of revolt against neoliberal labour laws imposed by the previous “Socialist” Party regime.

Recent elections have brought in a new administration under President Emmanuel Macron. Presented as a “centrist” by the global media (see Acorn 34), he is in fact a hardcore neoliberal, determined to destroy the social structures which remain in France.

He is planning to introduce even more neoliberal labour “reforms”, stripping away workers’ right in the interests of the ruling class he represents.

With trade unions and anti-capitalism still strong in France, Macron knows that he is going to face tough resistance in the months ahead.

Luc Rouban, a political scientist at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, has described the political situation in France as “potentially explosive” and said that “opposition is likely to express itself outside parliament.”

It is in this context that Macron is planning not to lift the State of Emergency, in the absence of any new terror attacks, but to incorporate it into French law!

This plan is already attracting wide concern from those committed to basic freedoms. The draconian and permanent new powers would allow central authorities to:

  • Ban people and vehicles from certain areas at certain times.
  • Create “zones of protection” or “security zones” to which the state can control entry.
  • Ban from any district a person considered to be in some way obstructing the actions of the authorities.
  • Order the temporary closure of any halls, bars or venues.
  • Ban any meeting considered to be liable to provoke disorder.
  • Make unconvicted “suspects” wear electronic tags.
  • Raid suspects’ homes at any time of day or night.
  • Use military courts instead of the usual ones.
  • Search any vehicle without the need for a warrant.

Activists are gearing up to resist this alarming move, as well as the onslaught of neoliberalism it is intended to help impose.

Declares a leaflet currently in circulation: “We refuse to see our fundamental rights reduced to nothing. We refuse to bow down to the police-state politics of a dictatorship!”

They are building for a “massive” day of mobilisation on [DATE NOW SATURDAY OCTOBER 7] in cities across France. Watch this space!

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4. Defiance in face of fracking onslaught

Demolished: the protection camp at Leith Hill near Dorking

Fracking remains the front line of environmental resistance in the UK, with courageous nature-protectors digging in their heels in a bid to see off this unprecedented threat to the countryside.

The frack free activists at Leith Hill, near Dorking in Surrey, featured in Acorn 29, put up a spirited resistance when bailiffs moved in to evict them at the summer solstice, June 21.

A wooden fortress and tunnel network meant that they were able to hold out for two days, as the representatives of the “law” cleared the way for the desecration of England’s land and water by the profit-hungry oil industry.

Even the mercenary in charge of evicting the protectors expressed a certain admiration for their efforts. Peter Faulding, CEO of SGI, told local media: “When we went on to the site we knew there was one tunnel already but we had no idea how complex their system was, it was a real shock to be honest. It was a completed rat run and the way they had dug them was really impressive. They had built in sections where they could lock themselves on to things and really hem themselves in”.

Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for the South of England, said: “The people at these protection camps are defenders of the earth and they deserve medals”.

While Europa may have, disgracefully, got permission for exploratory drilling in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the camp may have been demolished, the fight obviously goes on and more and more people are becoming aware of what is happening.

Protesting at Broadford Bridge

Not far from Leith Hill, at Broadford Bridge near Billingshurst (see Acorn 2), UK Oil and Gas is pushing ahead with its drilling plans in the face of local opposition and lock-on blockades. It is now claiming to have found oil.

Placing Broadford Bridge in a broader context, an excellent article by journalist Kathryn McWhirter, published in the Brighton Argus, asks Sussex residents if they really want to see their countryside turned into a massive oil field.

She writes: “Are we prepared to see the countryside we love industrialised for the sake of a small, short-term reduction in our balance of payment deficit, and profits for the few?”

People are “sleepwalking into an oilfield”, she warns, adding that if the oil industry and their Tory friends get their way “there will be wells across the Weald, with West Sussex the prime target”.

Lancashire lock-on

Meanwhile, in Lancashire, there are persistent rumours that the drill will soon be arriving at Preston New Road near Blackpool.

Six opponents of the Cuadrilla’s shale gas site took part in a lock-on protest outside equipment supplier, A Plant, on June 19. Then they locked-on at the site itself on Monday June 26.

Targeting suppliers

And throughout July there will be “Rolling Resistance” to Cuadrilla, with mass actions every Friday, starting on July 7 with a “Not Here Not Anywhere” demo at Preston New Road – see the Reclaim the Power website for full details.

Over in Yorkshire on Saturday and Sunday July 7 and 8 there is a Frack Free Community Weekend at the Kirby Misperton Protection Camp.

Some good news on the fracking front came in the unlikely guise of the Queen’s Speech, which made no mention of the Tories’ manifesto threat to make fracking even harder to stop.

Campaign group Frack Free United said: “This is a good day for communities and local democracy. Yes, nothing has really changed and we will have to continue the fight to protect communities from being turned into fracking gas fields, but make no mistake, this is a tipping point.

“The industry will only flourish with government support and the Conservative party U-turn on the manifesto pledge is a real shot in the arm for the campaign, providing even more energy into our campaign for the battles ahead.”

And more good news came from the accounts of fracking parent company, Cuadrilla Resources Holdings Ltd, which showed a loss of $11.6m for the 12 months to the end of December 2016.

And who is to blame for this? Writing in the annual accounts, chief executive Francis Egan complained about “irresponsible and intimidating behaviour” by protesters

Some might suggest that “irresponsible and intimidating behaviour” just about sums up the entire fracking industry, which is why people with a social and environmental conscience are determined to stop it in its toxic tracks.

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5. The Green One is coming!

A new book by Paul Cudenec, The Green One, has been published by Winter Oak Press. It explores how the awareness of our belonging to nature has always been present in human thought and culture. Today this vital spirit, which the author personifies as The Green One, is inspiring global resistance to industrial capitalism.

I am The Green One, although I would maybe better be named The Green Many. Green is the colour of eternal youth, of rebirth, of nature springing back into life after the death-sleep of winter.

I am Pachamama, I am Isis, I am Yemoja. I am Jack in the Green, I am Tammuz, I am Khidr.

I am regeneration. I am the right way of living. Sometimes I am revolution.

I have taken up the mighty sledgehammers of the Luddites. The Virgins are escaping from the churches and heading for the woods. The May Queens are running riot in the streets. Joan of Arc is burning patriarchy at the stake.

The pylons are tumbling. The motorways are crumbling. The pipelines are fracturing.

I am your future.

The Green One is coming! The Green One is coming!

Below is an extract from The Green One. For more extracts go here.

When will the fields come back?

“When will the fields come back and the grass for my children?”  – Lord Dunsany, ‘Nature and Time’, Fifty-One Tales

Every time somebody tries to stop a copse being hacked down or a meadow being concreted over, they are me.

Whenever people come together to protect a river, and those beings that live in and around it, from the callous brutality of a dam, they are me.

Each and every person who says “no” to fracking, to pipelines, to power lines, to coal mines, to waste tips, to GM crops or to arms factories is saying “yes” to me and to my presence within them.

When “something” stirs deep within you and sends you out to fight against a new road, a new shopping mall, a new airport or a new power station, then that “something” is me.

If you ever have the feeling that the world you know is insane and risks destroying everything that you value, then you should know that this feeling is me.

And when that feeling becomes an opinion, an argument, a theory or a philosophy, it is me in yet another guise.

Sometimes that feeling takes a secondary form. It might be a theoretical hunch, an ideological sensitivity to the way that even philosophies of resistance can be recuperated by that which they supposedly oppose.

But that energy is still me, only now I am obliged to go to work on the thankless task of clearing all the philosophical tangle and debris that has been blocking your path.

I blossom in the human heart but the human heart needs to let me in. I have to become the opening-up before I can become the filling-in and the acting-out.

To lose something precious is bad enough, but what if you have forgotten that it was precious? Or that you ever had it in the first place? Why would you search for something you do not value? How will you find something that you do not believe was ever there?

Your fields and your green grass will not come back until your love calls out to them.

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6. Acorninfo

Anger is mounting on the streets of London, provoking memories of the wave of rioting which swept through the UK capital, and other cities, in the summer of 2011. The latest clashes took place in Forest Gate, on the night of Sunday June 25, and were provoked by the death of Edir Frederico Da Costa, thought to have been fatally beaten in police detention. There have also been furious scenes, amid feelings of deep injustice, in North Kensington after the Grenfell Tower blaze on June 14. Not only do people feel that working class communities are treated with contempt by the authorities, but they are also outraged by the way the death toll has been vastly underestimated: hundreds are believed to have died although officially the total is only 79.

Forest Gate on the night of Sunday June 25

* * *

The increasingly fascistic nature of the US authorities is highlighted in a video interview from Unicorn Riot with a young woman who was arrested for protesting against Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20, J20. She, along with others, faces a jail term of 75 to 80 years! As she points out, the prosecutions are clearly political and are aimed at sending a message that dissent on the streets of the USA will no longer be tolerated. It’s not even a question of protesting “within the law” because laws have been deliberately drawn up as “traps” to make it easy to arrest dissidents, whatever they are doing. She says: “There’s no way to be an activist against oppressive systems and the State in which you are devoid of the risk of arrest.” State repression in the USA is also the theme of the latest 30-minute Trouble video from submedia.

* * *

The Earth First! Summer Gathering 2017 will be held in Hertfordshire, England, from Wednesday August 9 to Monday August 14. It offers five days of skill-sharing for grassroots ecological direct action, where people can make links, share ideas, and get involved in the struggles against fracking, new roads and more. More info at http://earthfirstgathering.org

* * *

From August 18 to 23, the Degrowth Summer School will take place at the Climate Camp in the Rhineland in Germany for the third time. This year’s main topics are “Degrowth perspectives on the future of the Rhenish lignite region”, “Psychology of change” and “Skills for System Change”.

* * *

A shocking indictment of our modern civilization comes from data released by the NHS under a Freedom of Information request. This reveals that hundreds of children in England aged six and under are being prescribed anti-depressants. Anti-depressants at the start of their lives? What sort of insane world have these precious young human beings been born into?

* * *

“The evidence suggests that the barbaric Manchester bombing, which killed 22 innocent people on May 22nd, is a case of blowback on British citizens arising at least partly from the overt and covert actions of British governments. The British state therefore has a serious case to answer.” This is the conclusion of an impressive in-depth investigation from Mark Curtis and Nafeez Ahmed which focuses on UK policies towards Libya and also touches on some of those related to Iraq and Syria.

* * *

Acorn quote: “A great part of politics and law is always theatre; once a social system has become ‘set’, it does not need to be endorsed daily by exhibitions of power (although occasional punctuations of force will be made to define the limits of the system’s tolerance).”

E.P. Thompson, Customs in Common

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

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The Acorn – 34

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Number 34


In this issue:

  1. Manchester: an explosion of hate and fear
  2. Extremists of the neoliberal “centre”
  3. The CIA and the war of ideas
  4. Enemy of the system – the US campaign against Julian Assange
  5. Money, power and mining
  6. Acorninfo

1. Manchester: an explosion of hate and fear

The vile bomb attack in Manchester on May 22 has left a noxious smell of racism and fascism in the British political atmosphere in the election run-up.

Prime Minister Theresa May was very quick to ramp up the terror alert status to “critical” and send the army onto the streets in a bid to show just how strong and stable she is.

The gesture has a hint of coup d’état about it. Even pro-establishment Guardian journo Jonathan Freedland had to admit that troops  being deployed in the middle of a general election campaign was “new and unsettling terrain for British democracy”.

As Gianfranco Sanguinetti noted, in his book On Terrorism and the State, regarding a similar situation in Italy in the late 1970s:  “The reasoning currently in vogue is simple: if you love democracy, you have to defend it; to defend it you have to fight its enemies; to fight the enemies of democracy, no sacrifice is too great: the nobility of the end justifies every means; no democracy for the enemies of democracy! Something which was never essentially a democracy has now visibly ceased being so”.

But even worse was to come from media commentators who seem eager to pave the way to a grim authoritarian-capitalist future.

The right-wing Muslim-hating newspaper columnist Katie Hopkins sent a tweet in which she called for a “final solution” – this apparent call for genocide is apparently now the subject of a police enquiry.

Incidentally Hopkins, formerly of The Sun and now with Mail Online and LBC, was sponsored through her university education by the British Army’s Intelligence Corps.

Allison Pearson of The Daily Telegraph tweeted:”We need a State of Emergency as France has. We need internment of thousands of terror suspects now to protect our children.”

What a bright idea, Allison! Round up those enemies of the state at once!

Meanwhile, Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked, struck an equally fascistic note when he tweeted: “A nation whose children are attacked must take action”, adding that “there is a strong justification for hate right now”.

O’Neill, and Spiked in general, has a proud history of amplifying authoritarian capitalist viewpoints under the cloak of a seemingly “radical” background – Spiked used to be called LM, or Living Marxism, and emerged from the very peculiar Revolutionary Communist Party.

As George Monbiot noted, O’Neill’s group has travelled “from the most distant fringes of the left to the extremities of the pro-corporate libertarian right” and it has never ceased being divisive and disruptive.

Explains Monbiot: “The organisation began in the late 1970s as a Trotskyist splinter called the Revolutionary Communist party. It immediately set out to destroy competing oppositionist movements. When nurses and cleaners marched for better pay, it picketed their demonstrations. It moved into the gay rights group Outrage and sought to shut it down. It tried to disrupt the miners’ strike, undermined the Anti-Nazi League and nearly destroyed the radical Polytechnic of North London. On at least two occasions RCP activists physically attacked members of opposing factions.”

Fake radical Brendan O’Neill addressing Australia’s Centre for Independent Studies, which promotes “the rule of law” and “free enterprise”

O’Neill, like Spiked as a whole, has a particular love of industrial capitalism and can barely suppress his hatred for anyone who dares to put the health of the environment above the quest for endless economic growth.

Indeed, he has specifically complained that environment protest “contributes to the increasingly mainstream hostility to economic growth”.

And he described eco-activists opposed to the third runway at Heathrow as “plummy-voiced enemies of progress, those most entitled and eco-pompous of millennials”.

He has also condemned the”leftish set’s warped, myopic anti-Semitism” and “the way in which attacking Israel has become a means of being derogatory about Jews”.

His Wikipedia entry describes him “a keynote speaker for the pro-Israel advocacy organisation StandWithUs”.

Meanwhile, over in France, the new “centrist” president Emmanuel Macron,  a former investment banker, has announced that he wants to further extend the country’s State of Emergency, for the sixth time since the Paris attacks of November 2015, and bring in unspecified new “anti-terror” laws.

And “anti-terrorism” was said to be high on the agenda of the NATO summit in Brussels this week (see Acorninfo, below) where Macron was meeting with counterparts such as Theresa May and Donald Trump.

Rabid support for industrial capitalism, bitter opposition to environmentalism, anti-Muslim rhetoric, hysterical calls for “action” in response to terror attacks… Funny how so many of these people seem to be reading from the same centralised script…

Resisting the Psychology of Terror

Terrorism and the state – learning from history

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2. Extremists of the neoliberal “centre”

New French president Emmanuel Macron

One of the most insidious terms on the contemporary European political scene is “centrist”.

It is a label claimed by the new French president Emmanuel Macron as well as by former UK prime minister Tony Blair.

And it is insidious because it is used to define extreme neoliberal capitalism as a norm, as a default position, as a “common sense” non-ideology whose assumptions and aims can never be fundamentally challenged, except by “extremists”.

Centrists like to make great play of being beyond the “divisive” politics of left and right and yet are always happy to exploit those divisions to cement their own position.

Thus Macron’s supporters in France urged left-wingers to vote for him to keep out the extreme-right Front National and condemned defeated left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon for not ordering his supporters to vote for Macron in the second round.

Tony Blair – another warmongering neoliberal “centrist”

Fellow “centrist” Blair saw Macron’s election as “a real victory for a more global approach to politics”, adding that he represented “a spirit which has echoes in every European country and in the western world in general”.

Blair’s supporters in the UK like to claim that the “populism” of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn is a mirror image of the right-wing populism of Donald Trump – the centrist line is always to lump all “extremists” together and suggest that if you go far enough round the “political spectrum” in either direction you will end up in the extremist hell of a kind of Nazi-Soviet pact, an anti-American, anti-semitic red-brown alliance that poses a chilling danger to strong and stable democratic values.

From the point of view of the centrist, which is of course well represented in the corporate media, anti-capitalism is peripheral and dangerous, always liable to open a Pandora’s box of hateful savagery.

This strategy is, unfortunately, very successful in terms of preventing the emergence of an anti-capitalist worldview that is capable of challenging reality as presented by the centrists.

Another inspiring revolutionary slogan from the mainstream “left”

Too many critics of neoliberalism allow themselves to be contained within the narrow political frameworks constructed by the dominant capitalist system.

Because centrists say that opposition to neoliberal globalisation amounts to a form of nationalism, some leftists are suckered into speaking in terms of “national” sovereignty as a bulwark against global Capital, rather than espousing a radical rejection both of the capitalist system and of the nation-states which maintain and enforce it.

Because centrists are always claiming that their policies are best for “growth” and for “creating jobs”, some leftists feel they have to justify their own policies using the same criteria.

Because centrists argue that the only alternative to imposing austerity is for states to borrow yet more money, some so-called left-wingers fall into their trap of proposing more debt to the bankers rather than the abolition of the whole capitalist money-system.

Because it seems obvious that, given the nature of elections and the shaping of public opinion, nobody can win an election on an authentically anti-capitalist platform, those leftists who engage on the electoral level of politics drop all real anti-capitalism from their rhetoric and programmes, and make do with reformism.

But this is a big mistake. They are not tailoring their politics to match the views of the public, but to match the views of the public as presented by the neoliberal centrists!

They are buying into the centrist line that the vast majority of the population are very happy with the way the world is organised and are firmly opposed to any fundamental change.

But what if that is simply not true? What if most people are sick to death of this hollow, money-fixated society and are longing for something else? What if most people are horribly aware of the dull limits of their daily grind, their daily consumption, and dream of a different existence?

What if most people are appalled by the spiralling destruction of the natural world, the police-state surveillance of every nook and cranny of their lives, the hypocritical warmongering propaganda churned out by the system’s media?

What if they are just waiting for someone to speak the truth, to say plainly that industrial society is a disaster, that the grey capitalist world of production, exploitation and consumption is a world not worth living in, that there are more important things than money, that  things could be so very different, so much better, if only we could smash down the walls of the cells in which have been imprisoned?

Where is the passion? Where is the rage? Where is the desire? Where are the calls to insurrection, to revolution, capable of stirring up a powerful groundswell of contempt for the self-defined centrists and everything they represent?

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3. The CIA and the war of ideas

It is not entirely accidental that there is a distinct lack of a coherent and vibrant ideological opposition to capitalism.

For many decades the agents of capitalist power, notably the CIA, have been engaged in what the Italian socialist Antonio Gramsci called a “war of ideas” to prevent any such movement arising.

Robin Ramsay of Lobster magazine, a specialist in secretive US interference in UK politics and culture, writes: “Much of the international political landscape of the postwar era in Britain consisted of US-funded or directed political projects – propaganda or psychological warfare projects they would now be called. And this was on top of the formal military-diplomatic-financial structure of NATO, the IMF, World Bank, Gatt, the UN etc.”

The pro-US, pro-Israeli, pro-imperialist “left” in Germany

In Germany, there has long been suspicion that American influence might have been behind the emergence of the “antideutsch” strain of leftism which conveniently combined anti-fascism with a fervent admiration for American imperialism and Israeli repression of Palestinians.

And a fascinating recently-released CIA document sheds some light on American capitalist attitudes to the “French Theory” philosophical movement which gave birth to postmodernism, postfeminism, postanarchism and that whole pompous school of pseudo-radical academic thinking which delights in pouring cold water on all notions of overturning capitalist hegemony and creating the other world for which we yearn.

The document, written in 1985, radiates with American self-congratulation that the anti-capitalist ideas which had been so powerful in France in 1968 had now been replaced by a philosophy that was friendly to US corporate and military interests.

It declares: “There is a new climate of intellectual opinion in France – a spirit of anti-Marxism and anti-Sovietism that will make it difficult for anyone to mobilize significant intellectual opposition to US policies.

“Nor will French intellectuals be likely to lend their weight, as they did before, to other West European colleagues who have become hostile to the United States on broad issues like disarmament.”

This shift in attitudes, it reports with evident delight, had been “weakening the traditional anti-Americanism of the leftist intellectuals and allowing American culture and even political and economic policies to find new vogue”.

The CIA reveal themselves to be very keen on “New Philosopher” Bernard-Henri Lévy, known as BHL in France, whose position of power at the Grasset publishing house was crucial in spreading the US-friendly ideology he was promoting.

BHL – a repeated target of anti-capitalist pie-throwing.

They also single out for ideological praise “the influential structuralist school associated with Claude Levi-Strauss, Foucault, and others”.

Of vital importance for the CIA is the destruction of an intellectual climate critical of capitalism and the imposition of a US-style money-orientated culture. They report gleefully: “There is no gainsaying that French youth, who once joined every new intellectual fad, now think of careers in science or business”.

The US agents note the rise of “a new wave of genuinely pro-American sentiment, rooted in the vogue of American popular culture, in respect for the American economic vitality of the 1980s, and in admiration for the new image of self-confidence that the United States now projects in the world.”

Opening up France to the rich delights of American culture

In a perceptive article on the implications of the CIA document, US philosopher and writer Gabriel Rockhill notes that it “should come as no surprise to those familiar with the CIA’s longstanding and ongoing investment in a global cultural war, including support for its most avant-garde forms”.

He notes that the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), which was headquartered in Paris and later discovered to be a CIA front organization during the cultural Cold War, was among the most important patrons in world history, supporting an incredible range of artistic and intellectual activities.

It had offices in 35 countries, published dozens of prestige magazines, was involved in the book industry, organized high-profile international conferences and art exhibits, coordinated performances and concerts, and contributed ample funding to various cultural awards and fellowships, as well as to front organizations like the Farfield Foundation.

Rockhill states: “The intelligence agency understands culture and theory to be crucial weapons in the overall arsenal it deploys to perpetuate US interests around the world.”

Former Marxists are particularly useful in channelling their propaganda as they provide “the perfect model for constructing deceptive narratives that amalgamate purported personal political growth with the progressive march of time, as if both individual life and history were simply a matter of ‘growing up’ and recognizing that profound egalitarian social transformation is a thing of the—personal and historical—past.”

Rockhill adds: “This patronizing, omniscient defeatism not only serves to discredit new movements, particularly those driven by the youth, but it also mischaracterizes the relative successes of counter-revolutionary repression as the natural progress of history.”

He correctly identifies the key aim of the CIA’s overall strategy to dismantle the cultural left in Europe and elsewhere as not being to abolish it entirely, which wasn’t regarded as possible, but instead “to move leftist culture away from resolute anti-capitalist and transformative politics toward center-left reformist positions that are less overtly critical of US foreign and domestic policies”.

There we have it. It’s the centre again. Indeed, the CIA report itself predicts that New Left intellectuals will weigh in heavily in supporting “moderate Socialists who are trying to create a broadbased center-left alliance”.

And the important point that Rockhill is making is that the CIA’s pro-capitalist contamination goes much deeper than mere party politics and into the heart of the contemporary ways of thinking that are considered by many self-defined radicals to be central to their “alternative” view of the world.

He says: “The CIA’s reading of French theory should give us pause to reconsider the radical chic veneer that has accompanied much of its Anglophone reception.

“According to a stagist conception of progressive history (which is usually blind to its implicit teleology), the work of figures like Foucault, Derrida and other cutting-edge French theorists is often intuitively affiliated with a form of profound and sophisticated critique that presumably far surpasses anything found in the socialist, Marxist or anarchist traditions.”

But the apparent sophistication of the postmodern position is simply intellectual bait in the CIA trap into which large sections of the so-called “left” have fallen.

As Rockhill writes: “According to the spy agency itself, post-Marxist French theory directly contributed to the CIA’s cultural program of coaxing the left toward the right, while discrediting anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism, thereby creating an intellectual environment in which their imperial projects could be pursued unhindered by serious critical scrutiny from the intelligentsia.”

Of course, the one thing the CIA report does not do is to spell out the US agency’s clandestine role  in bringing about this cultural shift away from genuine anti-capitalism and towards pro-imperialist postleftism, whether in France, Germany, the UK or elsewhere.

But then, they don’t really have to. Some of us are still perfectly capable of reading between the lines…

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

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4. Enemy of the system – the US campaign against Julian Assange

The shocking way that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been intimidated and smeared by the pro-American neoliberal system has been condemned by investigative journalist John Pilger.

He writes on his website: “For almost seven years, this epic miscarriage of justice has been drowned in a vituperative campaign against the WikiLeaks founder. There are few precedents.

“Deeply personal, petty, vicious and inhuman attacks have been aimed at a man not charged with any crime yet subjected to treatment not even meted out to a defendant facing extradition on a charge of murdering his wife.”

Prosecutors in Sweden have now announced that they are suspending their investigation of highly dubious rape allegations against Assange, who has been sheltering in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for five years to avoid extradition via Sweden to the USA.

“That the US threat to Assange was a threat to all journalists, and to the principle of free speech, was lost in the sordid and the ambitious. I would call it anti-journalism,” writes veteran anti-imperialist Pilger.

“Books were published, movie deals struck and media careers launched or kick-started on the back of WikiLeaks and an assumption that attacking Assange was fair game and he was too poor to sue. People have made money, often big money, while WikiLeaks has struggled to survive.

“The previous editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, called the WikiLeaks disclosures, which his newspaper published, ‘one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years’. Yet no attempt was made to protect the Guardian’s provider and source. Instead, the ‘scoop’ became part of a marketing plan to raise the newspaper’s cover price.

“With not a penny going to Assange or to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie. The book’s authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, gratuitously described Assange as a ‘damaged personality’ and ‘callous’. They also revealed the secret password he had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing the US embassy cables. With Assange now trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, Harding, standing among the police outside, gloated on his blog that ‘Scotland Yard may get the last laugh’.

“Journalism students might well study this period to understand that the most ubiquitous source of ‘fake news’ is from within a media self-ordained with a false respectability and an extension of the authority and power it claims to challenge but courts and protects.”

And the reason for the unprecedented and co-ordinated judicial-media attacks on Assange, whom some useful idiots on the fake “left” are also happy to condemn? It is simply, Pilger points out, that “WikiLeaks has exposed the way America dominates much of human affairs, including its epic crimes, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq: the wholesale, often homicidal killing of civilians”.

Challenging the criminal hegemony of the US-dominated global capitalist mafia remains the number one contemporary political heresy, it seems…

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5. Money, power and mining

“All the power’s in the hands
Of people rich enough to buy it”

As The Clash once pointed out, the close relationship between money and power is at the corrupt heart of our capitalist society.

Money buys power and money is used by those in power to ensure that money and power remain permanently in the same elite hands at the expense of the rest of the population and of the natural world.

Take, for instance, the experience of residents living close to the UK’s largest opencast coalmine at Ffos-y-Fran near Merthyr Tydfil in Wales.

Since 2007, they have been enduring what can only be described as a nightmare, with horrific levels of air and noise pollution, with cancer clusters and disturbingly high rates of childhood asthma.

Resident Alyson Austin told the BBC her family’s life had been ruined by the coal dust: “I find it difficult to put the washing out on the clothes line or enjoy my garden. On hot days we can’t even open the windows.”

Like good citizens, the locals went through all the “usual channels”, including a public inquiry, petitions, protests, High Court legal action and even a report from the UN’s special rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes.

But their complaints have been ignored and calls for an investigation into the health implications dismissed.

Five hundred locals attempted to take court action as a group, but their application was refused by the High Court “as they were deemed unable to afford it”.

Money always wins. The game is fixed. If you have no money then you have no say in a society where money, and greed for money, is king.

With the democratic process well and truly exhausted – and exposed as a sham – the only way forward was direct action.

Thus, in the early hours of 21 April 2017, under the banner of Earth First! and Reclaim the Power, a bunch of plucky rebels disrupted the mining operations.

At 5am, two of them blocked vehicle access to the mine by using D-locks and an armtube to lock onto the cattle grid at the entrance, while three others climbed down towards the bottom of the vast hole to lock onto the 300 tonne excavators used to extract coal (see video).

No coal mining took place all day.

The response from the system? Guilty of aggravated trespass, they were ordered to pay £10,000 compensation to Miller Argent, the company which is profiting from the misery of the people living alongside its environmentally disastrous mine.

A crowdfunding initiative has been launched to help the brave activists pay off this sum and we would urge people to help out if they can.

In the meantime, we are left with a useful reminder of the fact that the judicial system, in the UK as elsewhere, exists primarily to protect private property and private financial interests. It is designed not only to favour the rich, but to systematically punish the poor for their lack of wealth.

It’s a fraud, a scam, which is imposed on us using all the “authorised” violence of a state which has always existed to serve the interests not of ordinary people but of an arrogant ruling class which despises and exploits them in every way possible.

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6. Acorninfo

Ten thousand people took to the streets of Brussels on Wednesday May 24 to tell US president Donald Trump, and the imperialist warmongers of NATO, that they were not welcome in the Belgian capital. Said the No to NATO protest call-out: “NATO and its member states participate in illegal wars and military interventions, from Yugoslavia to Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. They contribute massively to international instability, fuelling the arms race and militarization. NATO remains committed to humanity’s biggest threat: nuclear weapons. NATO is the world’s most aggressive war machine. We must leave NATO and NATO must be dissolved.”

* * *

“By 2050, the US and UK will have evolved into two-class societies where a small elite lives a good life and there is declining well-being for the majority.” That is the prediction from Jorgen Randers, an academic and author of 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years. He adds: “Western nations are not going to collapse, but the smooth operation and friendly nature of Western society will disappear, because inequity is going to explode.” The process seems to be well underway…

* * *

A victory has been notched up in the battle to save one of the few museums in the world to be dedicated to the life and works of an anarchist. As we reported in Acorn 33, the Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis Museum at Heerenveen, in the Netherlands, celebrating one of the fathers of Dutch anarchism and libertarian socialism, was faced with closure and a petition was launched to keep it open. This has succeeded in persuading the municipal council of Heerenveen to lift the immediate threat to the museum.

* * *

Opponents of plans to frack in North Yorkshire have welcomed confirmation by Barclays that it plans to sell its stake in Third Energy. Barclays owns 97% of Third Energy, which has permission to frack for shale gas at its KM8 well at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire. Friends of the Earth described the decision as “a massive blow for the fracking industry” and urged them to keep up pressure on the bank.

* * *

Anti-fascists from across the UK are mobilising to oppose the Muslim-hating English Defence League in Liverpool on Saturday June 3. Email London Anti-fascists at ldnantifascists@riseup.net with the subject line COACH2LIVERPOOL to travel from the South of England.

* * *

Acorn quote: “Revolutionary movements do not spread by contamination but by resonance. Something that is constituted here resonates within the shock wave emitted by something constituted over there. A body that resonates does so according to its own mode. An insurrection is not like a plague or a forest fire – a linear process which spreads from place to place after an initial spark. It rather takes the shape of a music, whose focal points, though dispersed in time and space, succeed in imposing the rhythm of their own vibrations, always taking on more density. To the point that any return to normal is no longer desirable or even imaginable”.

Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection

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

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The Acorn – 33

acornmastheadnew1

Number 33


In this issue:

  1. Stepping up the battle against fracking
  2. Three victories in fight to protect Sussex countryside
  3. Uprising paralyses French colony
  4. British state goes to court for the arms trade
  5. So what exactly is “extremist material”?
  6. Acorninfo

1. Stepping up the battle against fracking

Resistance to fracking in the UK has moved up a significant notch over the last  two weeks, with the launch of a series of actions against the whole support infrastructure for the toxic industry.

One activist told media: “Since last Monday Reclaim the Power has taken action against quarries, water suppliers, haulage companies, PR firms and gas companies – all with direct links to the fracking industry. By taking out the links in the supply chain we can break the whole industry into pieces. It is now or never to stop fracking in its tracks.”

The Break the Chain initiative is continuing until Monday April 10, so there are a few more surprises in store yet –  see here for updates on actions.

Even as this bulletin was being completed, on the morning  of Friday April 7, news came in from the north of England of a blockade of PR Marriott, supplier of drills to the fracking industry. There was a tripod, three lock-ons and a banner drop.

Other highlights so far include:

Opponents of fracking in Lancashire blockaded the gates of fracking contractors A.E. Yates in Bolton. Road haulage firm Eddie Stobart also had its depot in Warrington blocked. This was part of  successful ongoing local campaign, which previously saw quarry operators Armstrong Aggregates cancel a contract to supply AE Yates and drilling firm Cuadrilla with materials for the building of the shale gas exploration site at Little Plumpton after dozens of Bolton Against Fracking protesters targeted the Montcliffe Quarry.

Aggregate Industries had to work stop at their quarry in Carnforth, Lancs, when protesters on swings took over height restriction bars at two key access points. One of the protesters explained: “We’re up here today because fracking isn’t a playground game. We need to give Aggregate Industries a reason to rethink its position, which is at odds with local democracy.”

Three protesters dressed as brides chained themselves to the door of London PR firm St Brides Partners, declaring that PR firms that are “wedded to the fracking industry are locking the UK into a toxic marriage that funds dangerous and unwanted unconventional oil and gas in the UK”.

A group of anti-fracking campaigners held a party for Centrica’s chief executive, Iain Connor, at the company’s head office, to “celebrate” his £1.4m bonus.

Cuadrilla’s shale gas site at Preston New Road, Little Plumpton, Lancashire, was closed by protesters.

Activist clowns staged a wrestling match outside Barclays in Piccadilly Circus, London, in protest at its 97% stake in fracking company Third Energy.

Bare-backed protesters spelled out an anti-fracking slogan and staged a noise demonstration in protest at Union Jack Oil’s stall at London’s UK Investor show. Said Reclaim the Power: “Everyone is becoming more aware of the equipment suppliers and haulage companies propping up the fracking industry because they are physically visible delivering to the fracking site in Lancashire. Events like these are doing the dirty work behind the scenes and are just as implicated and dangerous. They should be exposed.”

With at least five companies in the fracking supply chain having already pulled out after public pressure, the strategy behind Break the Chain could well have found a weak spot in the enemy’s armour.

We can now expect the fracking industry and their friends in high places to step up their efforts both to intimidate opponents and to  demonise them as dangerous “extremists” (see below).

Indeed, Morecambe and Lunesdale’s Tory MP David Morris has already got the ball rolling by declaring of the quarry blockade: “I condemn in the strongest terms this irresponsible intimidation of companies and road users trying to go about their lawful business and get on with their daily lives.”

But with massive support for campaigners, and less than one in five of the UK public now said to support fracking, this is a battle the powers-that-be may yet lose…

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2. Three victories in fight to protect Sussex countryside

Three significant victories have been won in the struggle to protect the countryside in Sussex, England, in recent weeks, showing  once again that determined local resistance can pay off.

Campaigners in both Eastbourne and Brighton have now joined land-defenders in Worthing in having defeated sneaky council proposals to sell off publicly-owned downland.

Dave Bangs of Keep Our Downs Public, a naturalist and author of three books on the Downs and the Weald, told The Ecologist: “This is the fourth time we’ve had to defend these public estates. These are struggles against privatisation that can be won. These resources are valuable to everyone, so you can get very broad alliances of people.”

Added journalist Jan Goodey: “This current south coast battle is of national significance: if a major part of the public estate is destroyed the prospect for landscape conservation becomes ever more precarious. The countryside could be further opened up to plutocratic predators, including many super-rich foreign investors.”

In Brighton the council’s U-turn came as a result of what Green MEP Keith Taylor called “an organised, passionate and energetic campaign to stop the sales”.

Eastbourne council was forced to concede defeat, after a cunning plan to persuade people to vote for the land sell-off spectacularly backfired. Locals saw through the false choice of either “service cuts” or “downs sell-off” and 75% of them voted for the (supposed) cuts and thus in favour of protecting the downland.

Sally Boys, of Keep Our Downs Public, said: “Eastbourne people have shown that we can see through the spin and unfair choice offered by the so-called ‘consultation’ in the Eastbourne Review. Above all, we have shown that the people of Eastbourne love and cherish their downs and will fight to protect them. The downland belongs to us all.”

The depth of feeling behind the Eastbourne campaign was apparent during a ceremony on the Downs in which the land was declared to be sacred to Sussex people, in the same way as the threatened land and water at Standing Rock in the USA are sacred to the Sioux people.

Campaigners were told: “This land is our land, not only because we own it, but because this is sacred land, the land where our forebears are buried in the barrows we see across this land.

“This land is the land of our ancestors, and we would not be here, not be the people we are today, without them. Just as we honour our ancestors today in this ceremony that reconnects us with them and with the land they cared for, so we honour our ancestors by fulfilling the sacred trust placed in us by the people of Eastbourne in 1926 to care for this land.

“And care for it we must, because, as the Standing Rock Sioux have shown by their shining example, we have to stand up as the Water Protectors of our time, in this place, on this, our land, because this land is also our source of water. This land is the aquifer that supplies our drinking water and makes it safe enough to drink. As the Standing Rock Sioux say so well, Water is Life. Without Water, there is no Life.

“So we own this land because we deserve to own this land, and we deserve to own this land because we are willing to care for this land, to protect it for all the wildlife here and for all the people of Eastbourne, and for all the people around this world who recognise with us how special, unique, and important this land is. We own this land because we belong to this land just as much as this land belongs to us.”

The third Sussex victory came in Chichester, where the government scrapped plans for £250 million A27 road “improvements” in the face of what it called “significant local campaigns”, just days before Highways England was due to announce its preferred route.

The local business lobby, along with its placemen on the local council and its cheerleaders in the local media, have reacted furiously to the news and are trying to pressure the government into reinstating the road scheme.

These road enthusiasts would do well to have a look at the latest report from the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) entitled: The end of the road? Challenging the road-building consensus.

This shows that all the talk of new roads “easing congestion” is baseless propaganda.

The CPRE’s Shaun Spiers commented: “Evidence from the 13 cases analysed in detail for traffic impact concluded that road schemes generate more traffic. On average, traffic grew 47% more than background levels, with one scheme more than doubling traffic within 20 years. None of the four schemes assessed in the longer-term showed the promised reduction in congestion; all put pressure on adjoining roads”.

And, he added, the price to pay was a high one: “Sixty-nine out of 86 road schemes examined had an adverse impact on the landscape – not just obliterating views, but destroying ancient woodland and mature hedgerows. More than half damaged an area with national or local landscape designations for landscape, biodiversity or heritage”.

If the authorities choose to take no heed of polite warnings from the likes of the CPRE, then it will be down to the people themselves, in Sussex and elsewhere, to launch more “organised, passionate and energetic” campaigns to protect the sacred land to which they belong.

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3. Uprising paralyses French colony

The French state is facing a major uprising in one of its remaining colonies in South America.

French Guiana, an overseas territory which is officially part of France and the EU, has been brought to a standstill by a general strike and massive social protest movement.

Roads have been barricaded, businesses closed and protesters this week temporarily occupied and shut down the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, where European Ariane rockets are launched.

French Guiana is an Amazonian territory north of Brazil, which is the size of Scotland but has a population of only 250,000.

The people’s grievances are varied, broadly boiling down to the fact that they feel like second-class citizens who are ignored by Paris.

While the French state benefits from the prestigious rocket launch site, 15% of the local population has no drinking water and 44% of the children leave school at primary level.

The “who we are” section of the website of the Pou Lagwiyann Dékolé collective, founded on March 28 2017, states: “We are the inhabitants of French Guiana. We are the people of French Guiana. We are one. We have risen up like one man to declare our unity.”

A very high-profile protest group called the 500 Brothers are calling for more security in a country hit by crime – and their appearance and rhetoric has alienated many of the uprising’s potential supporters in Europe.

One French anarchist currently in the territory was asked about the 500 Brothers in an interview and commented: “I see it as a reactionary thing. I’ve asked a lot of questions and talked to people, but I don’t really understand what’s behind this massive support for the 500 Brothers.”

But another French commentator said: “We are all Guianese because the contempt they are feeling from the ruling class echoes the general feeling that is being voiced everywhere in France.

“All the parties of government are guilty and responsible for this dire situation. All of them have failed and are grovelling to the supporters of the financial oligarchy. In French Guiana as elsewhere, a wind of change is blowing… and not before time!”

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4. British state goes to court for the arms trade

The British state is trying to overturn an important legal victory in the fight against the arms trade.

On 15th April 2016, eight activists were acquitted at Stratford Magistrates Court in London of obstructing a road outside the DSEI arms fair the previous September.

They successfully argued that their actions were justified, as they were trying to prevent greater crimes taking place, including the marketing of torture weapons, repression in Bahrain and the mass indiscriminate killing of civilians in Yemen, Palestine and Kurdistan.

On acquitting the activists, District Judge Angus Hamilton had held that there had been “clear, credible and largely unchallenged evidence from the expert witnesses of wrongdoing at DSEI and compelling evidence that it took place in 2015.”

Following the verdict, the UK state’s Crown Prosecution Service twice sought to appeal  the acquittals, but was turned down on the basis that the CPS applications were “dishonest”, “frivolous” and “misconceived”. The CPS finally applied directly to the High Court seeking a judicial review of the activists’ acquittal.

It is hardly surprising that the UK state is desperate to overturn a verdict which directly challenges its support for, and close collaboration with, the arms industry and the regimes which buy its products.

It does not even dispute any of the facts found by the Magistrates Court as to wrongdoing at the arms fair and complicity of its regular invitees in ongoing war crimes. It simply says that the judge should not have allowed this evidence to be heard.

From the state’s point of view, the judge’s decision was outrageous. That’s not how the law is supposed to work! That’s not how the game is meant to be played!

The law was devised in order to protect Power and to justify the violence used by Power. If you are an enemy of Power, blocking a road is a crime. If you are a friend of Power, killing or torturing people is not a crime.

It’s not about “right” and “wrong”, but about “legal” and “illegal”. And it is Power which decides how “legal” and “illegal” are defined.

Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (CAAT) said: “The campaigners should not be getting pursued for protesting – it should have been the arms dealers who have fuelled and facilitated war and oppression around the world.

“The arms trade is an illegitimate, immoral trade, and events like DSEI are central to it. Whatever the verdict, we need to mobilise the biggest possible opposition when it returns to London later this year. DSEI brings the world’s biggest arms companies together with some of the world’s most oppressive regimes. It needs to be closed down for good.”

In a joint public statement, the defendants’ campaign said:  “The CPS cannot dispute any of the findings of fact made at our trial concerning criminality at DSEI, or the high probability that weapons bought there would be used for war crimes.

“How could they, when every credible authoritative source only serves to confirm that the UK government and other repeat DSEI invitees such as Saudi and its coalition allies are solidly and persistently complicit in the mass indiscriminate killing of civilians?  It is little wonder then, that the CPS should seek to prohibit the admission of such evidence in court on arbitrary procedural grounds, arguing that expert evidence should not have been allowed to be heard by the court at all.

“For us it is clear that there is not only a right – but also a profound responsibility – for each of us to do all we can to stop war crimes and crimes against humanity where they start.”

Hajar Mansoor Hasan (second from right), apparently targeted by authorities in retribution for the human rights work of her son-in-law, Sayed al-Wadaei. Also pictured are Hasan’s children, aged 13 and 11, and mother, 90.

At the same time that the case against DSEI activists was being reopened, two family members of expert witness Sayed Ahmed al-Wadaei – who gave evidence at the activists’ trial – were detained by the Bahraini government in retribution for his speaking out about human rights abuses perpetrated by the regime.

His mother in law and brother in law are still being held and there is grave concern for their safety following reports that they have been subjected to torture.

More info on resistance to the 2017 DSEI arms fair here and here.

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5. So what exactly is “extremist material”?

The UK is ramping up its attack on online freedom, seizing on the excuse of last month’s Westminster Bridge attack to try and outlaw encrypted messaging.

It is also considering legislation to force firms to “take down extremist material” from the internet, although details of what this might involve are not yet clear.

The state’s definition of “extremism” has been left deliberately vague and in other contexts has already been applied to anarchism, anti-fascism and the growing frack-free movement.

Banning this kind of political content from social media or other websites might seem to be out of the question in a country that likes to claim it is a “democracy”, but it would be in line with increasingly repressive official attitudes.

After the Investigatory Powers Act was passed last year, no fewer than 48 government bodies – including the Food Standards Agency and Department for Work and Pensions – can view a record of the websites people have visited in the past year.

A year and a half ago, Theresa May launched a “counter-extremism strategy” which amounts to a McCarthyite witch hunt which The Guardian described as being targeted “against ‘entryist’ infiltration of the public sector, charities and businesses by Islamist and other extremists”.

The term “other extremists” stands out here. The UK Government defines “extremism” as vocal or active opposition to what it calls “fundamental British values”, by which it of course means the “values” of the British state, such as waging imperialist wars and protecting the arms trade that profits from them (see above).

Police monitoring group Netpol says it has spoken to many people “who are alarmed by the stifling of political debate in schools and in further and higher education – including discussion on issues like ‘eco-terrorism‘ and support for Palestine – and who are more worried than ever about attending political meetings or engaging in online discussion”.

Does “removing extremism” from the internet simply mean trying to ban dissent? We can tell them now – it won’t work!

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6. Acorninfo

Hundreds of demonstrators set fire to the National Congress building in Asuncion, Paraguay, on the night of March 31, in a furious reaction to a secret vote for a constitutional amendment allowing right-wing President Horacio Cartes to run for re-election. A 25-year-old opposition activist was later shot dead during a police raid.

* * *

Two protests against the environmentally disastrous Drax Power Station will be held in the UK on Thursday April 13. One is planned for York from 10.30pm until 2pm, where Drax’s shareholders are meeting at The Royal York Hotel York (The Principle York), close to York rail station. On the same day in London a colourful protest will visit some of Drax’s key investors from 12 noon until 2pm – meet in Gresham Street.

* * *

Encouraging people to take direct action in the defence of the environment is not always easy, particularly when they have the impression that this is something only carried out by semi-professional activists. One video that could very usefully be shown to the public, with this in mind, is La Bataille de l’Eau Noire. This inspiring and entertaining documentary tells of a village in Belgium threatened by a dam in 1978, and hears from a cross-section of decidedly non-“activist” locals as to how they unleashed guerrilla warfare to successfully see off the project. The DVD comes with English subtitles and copies are being offered to groups involved in  struggles who would like to arrange screenings. Contact benjaminhennot@yahoo.fr

* * *

Pro-capitalist trade union GMB has called for police and courts to take “a firm line” against opponents of fracking, reports Drill or Drop. As we have previously revealed here, GMB is very much in bed with the oil and gas business mafia and has even done a deal with UKOOG, the front group representing the fracking industry in the UK. Freedom News commented that the sell-out union’s latest statement comes “in an apparent total disregarding of the long history of police dirty tactics breaking strikes and picket lines in Britain, as well as numerous reports of police misbehaviour against fracking protesters”.

* * *

Anti-capitalists gearing up for the big protests against the G20 in Hamburg this  summer launched a spectacular attack on a police station on the Grundstrasse in Hamburg in the early hours of March 26, setting the police vans in the yard on fire. In a statement translated by Insurrection News, the activists explained: “Our target was selected with care, the repressive machinery has been working at full speed on the criminalization of the resistance”.

* * *

A petition has been launched to save from closure one of the few museums in the world to be dedicated to the life and works of an anarchist. The Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis Museum at Heerenveen, in the Netherlands, celebrates one of the fathers of Dutch anarchism and libertarian socialism, who was also active in the vegetarian and anti-militarist movements. The petition can be signed here.

* * *

Indigenous resistance to industrial capitalism and the thorny issue of the “enemy within” in the shape of “Peace Police”, sell-out NGOs and corrupt “tribal government” – this is the subject matter of the first in a series of monthly documentaries by sub.media, going under the name of Trouble. Well worth a look!

* * *

A pioneering UK academic publishing project is aiming to make first-rate scholarship on anarchism freely accessible through a sustainable publishing model. Alexandre Christoyannopoulos of Loughborough University explained that the first volume of Essays in Anarchism and Religion is already in production and now a crowdfunding scheme has been extended in a bid to fund the next two volumes.

* * *

Acorn quote: “In a culture where profit has become the true God, self-sacrifice can seem incomprehensible rather than noble”.

Starhawk, Webs of Power: Notes from the Global Uprising

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

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The Acorn – 32

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Number 32


In this issue:

  1. Anger returns to the French streets
  2. Civil servants and dodgy arms dealers
  3. “It’s imperative that we change this system”
  4. Scandal of UK’s “death sentence” prisoners
  5. Destroying words, attacking reality
  6. Acorninfo

1. Anger returns to the French streets

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After a few months of relative calm, anger has again erupted on the streets of France, this time specifically focused against the police.

This time last year saw the start of the massive protest movement against the neoliberal labour “reforms” called the Loi Travail, as reported by The Acorn.

With the summer holidays, and the fact that the law was forced through parliament by the ruling “Socialist” party, the movement inevitably faded.

But, in reality, the energy behind it had never  been limited to anger about this latest capitalist assault on workers’ rights. It was a general resentment against the whole system that was simmering and as increasing repression was unleashed against protesters, the movement became just as much a defiance of the violence of the French state, with its “state of emergency” martial law and fascistic police goon squads.

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Now, at the start of 2017, the cities and towns of France are once again being filled by cries of “Tout  le monde déteste la police!” – “Everybody hates the police!”.

The immediate catalyst has been the nauseating police rape of a young black man in Aulnay, a suburb of Paris, on February 2 – he had to be treated in hospital for anal injuries after having a police baton thrust into him during an all-too-common attack on local youths by thuggish cops.

In response, there have been several weeks of often-feisty protests in the immediate area and all across France (see this video from Bobigny, for instance,  and these round-ups from lundimatin and paris-luttes).

The latest of these came on Tuesday February 28, with blockades of secondary schools in Paris and beyond.

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An anti-police demo in Rennes

The anger is not going to disappear fast. While the French establishment has tried to calm outrage by charging a cop with rape and sending President Hollande to visit victim Théo L in hospital, it seems likely to embrace the police version that the brutal violation was somehow “accidental”.

And, in the year of the French presidential elections, the revolt against police violence cannot be separated from wider political issues, even if liberals would prefer otherwise.

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For instance, when a protest against an extreme-right Front National event in Nantes on February 25 turned into street conflict with the cops, the usual reformist voices were raised, saying that this had undermined the day’s anti-fascist message.

But, as protesters interviewed by lundimatin explained, it is difficult in today’s France to draw a line between fascism and the police. When it is police who brutally attack blacks on the streets, police who attack left-wing protesters, police who are known to vote in large numbers for the pro-police Front National, you do not need to look any further for the fascist enemy.

Said Camille: “Confronting the police is fighting the Front National. Fighting the Front National is saying no to a police-state society.”

Added Mo: “Obviously the police’s political party is the FN. Its whole campaign is built on this image of a party of law and order. The FN can’t present itself as an openly fascist party, but can get away with the idea of being the only party really supporting the police”.

Families of the victims of police violence have called a national protest against cop-crime and institutional racism for Sunday March 19. This will set off from Nation, in Paris, at 2pm and head to the Place de la République via Bastille.

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2. Civil servants and dodgy arms dealers

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Campaigners have announced a day of protest against a controversial Cardiff event which they say “totally blurs the boundary between government and the arms trade”.

DPRTE (Defence Procurement, Research, Technology & Exportability) is to be held at the Motorpoint Arena on Tuesday 28 March. Although it bills itself as “the UK’s leading defence procurement event”, opponents insist it is an arms fair.

Last year six people were arrested during protests against DPRTE and another day of action has been called for 2017, with the aim of shutting the event down.

BAE Systems, whose fighter jets have been used by the Saudi regime to bomb schools and hospitals in Yemen, as well as by the Turkish and Israeli states against Kurdish and Palestinian civilians, will be exhibiting in the “Prime Contractor Village” at Cardiff’s Motorpoint.

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Bombing Yemen

DPRTE is open about its aims to deepen and increase existing ties between arms businesses and the government.

These links between the UK state and the weapons industry have come under heavy scrutiny in recent months, with Prime Minister Theresa May being forced to defend ongoing arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the face of international criticism.

Event organisers BiP Solutions boast: “With an annual spend of over £19bn on equipment and services the UK defence sector represents a fantastic opportunity for organisations looking to supply to this marketplace. DPRTE 2017 will provide a unique opportunity to gain access to defence procurement buyers”.

BiP Solutions, a private company based at Pacific Quay, Glasgow, is deeply embedded within Ministry of Defence (MOD) operations, running its Defence Contracts Online, through which all MOD contracts valued at £10,000 and above are advertised. It also publishes the fortnightly MOD Defence Contracts Bulletin.

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Established in 1984 “to facilitate business between the public and private sectors”, BiP Solutions has had a “a sixteen-year relationship” with civil servants at the MOD in London.

A keynote speaker at DPRTE 2017 will be 62-year-old Les Mosco, who was the most senior procurement professional in the MOD from 2007 to 2014, managing 2,500 staff and directing the MOD’s annual multi-billion pound spend.

Before his seven-year stint at Whitehall, Mosco enjoyed a successful career in the private sector, with roles at the NatWest banking group, and at the US-based oil and gas business Amerada Hess, now the Hess Corporation.

Less than a year after leaving the MOD at the end of September 2014, Mosco took up a position on the Strategic Advisory Board of BiP Solutions.

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Les Mosco – from the MOD to the private sector

He also runs his own private company, Commercial Strategies Ltd, of which he is CEO and director, with his 65-year-old wife Barbara as company secretary. It is registered to the couple’s home in Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire.

Originally set up in October 2003 as Purchasing Strategies Ltd, its name was changed to Commercial Strategies Ltd in October 2014, just after Mosco left the MOD.

Mosco’s go-between role is no anomaly. The UK government does not hide its links to DPRTE, with Barry Burton, Director of Corporate Affairs at the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support organisation, declaring in his 2016 opening speech in Cardiff: “An event like DPRTE today provides an excellent opportunity for industry professionals to meet with the MOD’s procurement team. The Ministry of Defence wholeheartedly supports this event.”

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The official event partners listed on the DPRTE website include sections of the MOD like Defence Equipment and Support, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Defence Infrastructure Organisation and the Defence Export Service Organisation (DESO), which promotes arms exports by arms companies based in Britain.

Alongside these government entities sit other event partners whose status is less clear. One of these, for instance, is Defence Growth Partnership (DGP), which describes itself as “a partnership between Government and the Defence Industry”.

There is also the UK Defence Solutions Centre (UKDSC), which explains on its website that it is “an established, independent partnership between the UK Government and the UK Defence Industry”.

The UKDSC claims to work with “the best of the defence industry” and names arms companies such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Thales, Cobham and BAE Systems as key partners.

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Death-dealer Raytheon sells weapons like this

Another DPRTE “partner” is Defence and Security Accelerator, a new entity launched in December 2016 to “help government defence and security departments collaborate with industry, academia and allies”.

Further official event partners at DPRTE entirely represent the interests of the powerful weapons manufacturing industry.

One of these, ADS, terms itself the “Premier Trade Organisation for companies in the UK Aerospace, Defence, Security and Space Sectors” and claims to represent 1,000 businesses.

Its website reveals that it acts as a lobbying group, pressuring the government to behave in ways that benefit its members’ interests – which in this case would mean spending more taxpayers’ money on buying weapons.

ADS admits that a key area of its activities is “influencing the policy debates of most importance to our industries,” adding: “ADS plays an instrumental role in bringing industry and Government together. We also work closely and collaboratively to maintain and grow the UK as a world leader in our industries.”

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Working towards similar aims is another DPRTE partner, NDI – Defence, Space, Aerospace, Security. The arms wing of the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, NDI “actively promotes global business opportunities for its members” and says it provides “policymaking influence to magnify the voice of the industry and individual companies”. Its “global partners” include BAE Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Raytheon.

DPRTE has been attracting protests for several years and was forced to move to Cardiff in 2014 because of public opposition at its original venue in Bristol.

This year the Stop the Cardiff Arms Fair / Na i Ffair Arfau Caerdydd network is advertising a Day of Action at the Motorpoint Arena in Mary Ann Street, starting at 8am on 28 March 28.

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One anti-militarist campaigner said: “This event is unacceptable in so many ways. It totally blurs the boundary between government and the arms trade and uses taxpayers’ money to promote unethical profiteering in the private sector.

“These ruthless businesses build their wealth on the rubble of schools and hospitals and on the dead bodies of the children targeted by the weapons of mass destruction they manufacture and sell across the world.

“DPRTE has no place in Cardiff and the city should be ashamed of hosting these dealers in death. We call on anyone with a conscience to join us on 28 March to shut down this arms fair!”

For more info on the protests see https://blog.caat.org.uk/2017/02/14/stop-the-cardiff-arms-fair-2/

by Shoal Collective – theshoal(at)riseup.net

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3. “It’s imperative that we change this system”

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“If we really want to preserve the environment, and the quality of water resources, it’s imperative that we change this system and this government”.

So who said this? A Standing Rock campaigner in the USA, perhaps? An anti-fracking activist in the UK?

No, these are the words of Ran Yunfei, a Chinese philosopher and dissident who has already spent time in jail for his opposition to the policies of the “People’s Republic”.

He is speaking in South to North, a documentary film by Antoine Boutet about the highly controversial Nan Shui Bei Diao, or South–North Water Transfer Project. This massive scheme aims to channel 44.8 billion cubic meters of fresh water annually from the Yangtze River in southern China to the more arid and industrialized north through three canal systems.

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But behind the gloss and profits of a prestige infrastructure project lies, as ever, a different story – of displaced families, corrupt local officials, depleted rivers, dead fish and untold environmental damage.

Ran says in the film, now out on DVD: “I didn’t directly criticise the Nan Shui Bei Diao project, but I’m well informed. A lot of people are against it and so am I. It’s damaging the sources of many Southern rivers. I criticise the government because it’s a political project.

“The destruction of the environment in China is the doing of a disastrous government and political system. The development model is based on GDP growth, without concern over the consequences for the environment.

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Ran Yunfei

“On the one hand the incompetencies of the system, on the other the belief that ‘man can determine the course of nature’. The natural catastrophes that have succeeded one another indicate that the future foretells of more natural catastrophes.

“The protection of the environment must be made a top priority. The protection of the environment and the life of the people should be valued at the same level. Because without environmental protection there is no quality of life”.

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A scene from the film

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4. Scandal of UK’s “death sentence” prisoners

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The hidden scandal of people serving indefinite sentences in UK jails is to be exposed by campaigners this month.

Smash IPP are embarking on a March 2017 info tour and are looking for local groups and individuals to help organise dates, mainly between Monday March 13 and Sunday March 19.

More than 3,989 people are serving IPP (Imprisonment for Public Protection) sentences in British prisons even though these were legally abolished five years ago.

These victims of blatant injustice still languish in jails with no release date. Parole board delays, prison overcrowding and sheer neglect are all leading to unprecedented rates of prisoner suicides.

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Smash IPP report that, only last year, a prisoner whom they supported died in prison: “We have worked with IPP families who have lost their kids and their partners. Children have grown up with having a parent stolen by this sentence”.

A mother with a son who’s an IPP describes the IPP sentence as a “death sentence”. One IPP wrote how “Our families are doing the sentence just us much as us, is it right for them to never know if we will ever come home? Sometimes I feel that if I died it would be better for them because they could bury me and move on with their lives and not worry any more.”

Smash IPP say: “Enough is enough. This is life and death. We will not let any more people die because of prison bureaucracy and neglect. This year we call for a year of action to free all IPPs.”

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Anyone who can host a meeting would just have to be able to help IPP find a local venue for a two-hour event, help with local publicity and put two people up overnight, preferably with vegan food.

To get involved in any way, contact Smash IPP via info(at)smashipp.noflag.org.uk

For more info go to smashipp.noflag.org.uk

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5. Destroying words, attacking reality

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In George Orwell’s 1984, one of the Party members developing Newspeak tells Winston Smith: “You think, I dare say, that our chief job is inventing new words. But not a bit of it! We’re destroying words – scores of them, hundreds of them, every day”.

He explains: “Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it… By 2050 – earlier, probably – all real knowledge of Oldspeak will have disappeared. The whole literature of the past will have been destroyed”.

In destroying the full metaphysical meaning of words like “essence”, “nature” or “universal” by means of their straw man constructs, the conformists of contemporary goodthink are destroying our connection to reality.

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Because they ideologically object to everything beyond subjective individual experience, they are destroying, in particular, our connection to the reality that we human beings are more than individuals.

They are destroying our understanding that our individual freedom and well-being are in fact dependent on a collective level of existence as part of a community, as part of a species and as part of nature as a whole.

They are thus destroying our capacity to see what has been stolen from us by the alienation and separation of the industrial capitalist system and what it is that we must reclaim. “If one is to rule, and to continue ruling,” declares Orwell’s Emmanuel Goldstein, “one must be able to dislocate the sense of reality”.

A philosophically dislocated anti-capitalist movement that has lost all sense of what it is fighting against and what it is fighting for will never be able to persuade the rest of the population of its arguments and thus will never represent any kind of threat to the dominant system.

Taken from Nature, Essence and Anarchy by Paul Cudenec, a free sample chapter of which is now available free on the author’s blog

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6. Acorninfo

It is not just in France (see above), of course, that police brutality continues to rear its ugly pig-faced head. On February 23, a blind man was tasered by UK police in Levenshulme, Manchester. Shamefully, mainstream media reports like this one obediently echoed the absurd police claim that “his cane was mistaken for a gun”. About as credible as accidentally raping someone with your truncheon…

* * *

The battle to Keep Our Downs Public in Eastbourne (see Acorn 29) is intensifying, as the borough council tries to avoid responding to public opinion. The town hall spin doctors have tried to pull a fast one by promoting a “poll” in their own council publication  featuring totally one-sided information and a blackmail-style question asking residents whether they prefer the sale of Downland farms or cuts to front-line services! Unimpressed, hundreds took to the streets of the Sussex town to protest on February 25 – see this video report.

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* * *

After a three-year absence, Paris anarchist bookfair is returning to the French capital on April 22 and 23. It takes place in the Espace d’animation des Blancs-Manteaux in the Marais area of the city centre, not far from the Hotel de Ville metro station. Meanwhile, in the UK, the very handy site anarchistbookfairs.blogspot.com reveals that Liverpool Anarchist Bookfair is being held on April 1; Cambridge Radical Bookfair on April 29; Southend Radical bookfair on May 6; Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair on May 20 and Dorset’s first Radical Bookfair will take place on Saturday June 3 at Portfield Community Hall, Portfield Rd, Christchurch BH23 2AQ.

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* * *

Fancy being part of an autonomous network made up of local groups and individuals from the anarchist movement based in the UK? You might want to get along to LARC at 62 Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel, London E1 1ES  on Sunday March 12, 1pm-3pm, for the latest national meeting of the Anarchist Action Network.

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* * *

Hundreds of people protested against fracking in two different parts of northern England on February 25. Some 1,000 people gathered near Cuadrilla’s Preston New Road site near Blackpool in Lancashire for a rally, after which dozens of protesters managed to invade the fracking site. And more than 400 people took part in a march from Mosborough, near Sheffield, to Marsh Lane in Derbyshire where INEOS has announced plans for what could be its first shale gas site. Full report at drillordrop.com

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* * *

A direct action protest by Rising Up! blocked access to three terminals of London’s Heathrow Airport on February 21 in opposition to the planned third runway. The activists included both climate campaigners and local people fearful of increased pollution, loss of homes and green space and the destruction of entire villages to pave the way for yet more aviation profit.

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* * *

Acorn quote: “Faith in the fundamental goodness of man; humility in the presence of natural laws; reason and mutual aid – these are the qualities that can save us. But they must be unified and vitalized by an insurrectionary passion, a flame in which all virtues are tempered and clarified, and brought to their most effective strength”.

Herbert Read, The Philosophy of Anarchism

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

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The Acorn – 29

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Number 29


In this issue:

  1. Eco-campers resist oil drilling in Surrey Hills
  2. England’s sacred land
  3. Newbury, the past and the future
  4. Hamburg calling! Attack the G20 summit!
  5. J20: USA prepares for massive day of revolt
  6. Two new books from Winter Oak
  7. Hands off our Downs!
  8. Acorninfo

1. Eco-campers resist oil drilling in Surrey Hills

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An eco-protection camp has been set up in the woods of southern England to try and stop exploratory oil drilling at a precious rural site.

After years of planning battles, including two public inquiries, Europa Oil & Gas were last year given the go-ahead to explore for oil at Leith Hill near Dorking in Surrey and are now due to start work.

These loathsome environmental vandals want to fell hundreds of trees and permanently destroy a unique two-acre zone of beautiful woodland, polluting a much wider area, in the pursuit of short-term financial profit.

And while they are not proposing the immediate use of fracking, observers of the industry warn that the drilling at Leith Hill is about accessing data for shale and tight oil reservoirs and is therefore ‘gateway’ drilling for future fracking in the southern English Weald.

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When The Acorn visited the Leith Hill Protection Camp we found the campaigners in a buoyant and determined mood.

They were delighted with the massive levels of support from local people of all types – residents have even set up a rota system to bring hot meals up to the protectors.

While we were there, a steady stream of cars and trucks were pulling up with donations of wood and other supplies for the rapidly-expanding camp occupying the drill site.

Said Dr Dave, one of the protectors: “We have been welcomed here with overwhelming warmth by people from all across the Leith Hill area who have become disillusioned with normal democratic processes being overridden, despite the fact that nobody except a handful of investors wants the drilling here at Leith Hill or anywhere in Surrey to go ahead.

“The camp is here to provide a physical presence, to embody the fact that people are saying ‘no’ to drilling at Leith Hill.”

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Leith Hill is officially classed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and an Area of Great Landscape Value with a rare and fragile environment. Organisations including the National Trust, Campaign to Protect Rural England and the Surrey Hills AONB Board have all vigorously and formally objected to the drilling plans.

The site is on Forestry Commission land and thus even owned by the public – and yet business interests have still held sway, as you would expect in what is essentially a capitalist dictatorship.

There is a nightmarish quality to the oil firm’s approved plans. The massive rig would have a flashing aircraft warning light on top, the rig would be illuminated at night and the whole compound would be floodlit. Drilling would continue 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Coldharbour Lane, which leads to the site, is an ancient Surrey Hills “sunken lane”, meaning that it has formed gradually over hundreds of years, creating a deep trough through which the lane runs.

These sunken lanes have very delicate banks, which are held together with the roots of the trees that line them. They are rare treasures and if they are damaged, they are lost forever. There is no putting them back. They are irreplaceable.

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The lane in many places is only just wide enough for two standard cars or one moderate sized lorry. But Europa proposes using super-sized HGV’s to and from the proposed site, with more than 1,000 HGV movements already proposed.

Meanwhile, experts have warned that exploratory drilling, which involves pumping toxic fluid into the ground, could cause serious damage to an aquifer that feeds into central Surrey’s water supplies – as much damage as would be caused by fracking.

Protector Dr Dave told The Acorn: “The time has come to take a stand against the fossil fuel industry and its various components.

“Hydrocarbon extraction through either conventional or unconventional means is madness now, considering the fact that the UK government has signed up to the Paris climate change agreement and taken the stance publicly that fossil fuel consumption should from this point be reduced.

“The Leith Hill Action Group and the local people of Coldharbour and the area have been successfully fighting drilling for oil at Leith Hill for the past seven years and they have been doing this through recognised democratic processes.

“These are now being overridden as central government pressurises local government to accept these unrealistic policies to extract hydrocarbon in all its forms in Surrey.

“I urge everyone in Surrey and beyond who values not only our environment but also our democratic processes to make a stand here at Leith Hill and all across the Weald to say ‘enough is enough!'”

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Dan Harvey, who had come to support the camp, said: “I have been coming up here since I was a kid. You couldn’t choose a worse place to drill.”

He said the area around Leith Hill had inspired the poetry of Lord Alfred Tennyson, the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams and the natural studies of Charles Darwin, who researched earthworms here: “He would be turning in his grave.”

Leith Hill Action Group has warned that the forcing-through of the drilling means no corner of the English countryside is safe from industrial capitalist pillage.

They said: “The proposed development is in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and in the Green Belt. An AONB has the same legal status as a national park – development is totally prohibited unless it is in the ‘overwhelming national interest’.

“Green Belt land is there to prevent industrialisation of the countryside and fundamental characteristics of Green Belt land are its openness and permanence. We are in danger of the gradual bleeding out of these protections. If it becomes established that ‘overwhelming national interest’ includes exploring for oil this will inevitably set a precedent for the next time a protected area of land is tested.”

Callum
Callum

For Callum, one of many youngsters on the site, the struggle at Leith Hill is part of a much wider fight to pull this planet back from the brink of disaster: “If we let the oil companies take this then we’ll end up with everywhere being just one giant city”.

Lilith, a generation older, said: “When we took the site in the dark my heart leapt with joy to see the young ones shoot straight up into the trees. My thoughts went to Newbury, to Hambacher, to the ZAD. This is all one struggle”.

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A protector keeps warm at Leith Hill

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2. England’s sacred land

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The sunken lane leading up to Leith Hill Protection Camp through the wooded Surrey hills seems to lead into another England, a forgotten England, long-lost and buried under all the layers of concrete, tarmac and numbed industrial indifference of the modern world.

Gnarled and twisted tree roots line either side of a route which has been worn deep over the course of hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

A short walk around the threatened site unveils a rich and earthy beauty that reaches inside you and grips your heart – tangles of bramble and ivy, the ancient living texture of bark and branch, slants of autumnal sunlight igniting the yellow, gold, bronze, orange, red, brown explosion of organic colour.

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The Sioux people fighting the North Dakota Access Pipeline around Standing Rock in the USA (see Acorninfo, below) say loud and clear that the land they are protecting is sacred.

But here in England, too, we have our own sacred land, sacred water and sacred trees, even if any such ideas have been sneered at by our overlords ever since the Christian Church first declared war on those who worshipped life and nature instead of the austere authority of a distant and separate God.

Far too much of our sacred land has already been lost under the motorways, shopping centres, industrial parks and ugly suburban sprawl which have now become the depressing norm in England.

Those areas which remain, which have kept their magical vitality, are therefore more important, more sacred, than ever.

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Beauty under threat at Leith Hill

Make no mistake – the area around Leith Hill is one of those precious pieces of sacred English land. There is an energy, a power, in those woods that you can almost touch.

Surrey is renowned for the purity of its water, thanks to the filtering effect of its sandy and chalky soils. All around the camp are springs and tiny streams, which feed the Pipp Brook and then the River Mole.

One of these is Mag’s Well, an ancient sacred site, whose water was reputed to relieve rheumatism, scurvy, dermatitis, leprosy, scabs, itch, and scrofula. But no value is given to the life-giving purity of water in a modern world whose hollow dead-souled gods are money, money and yet more money.

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Those defending these woodlands from the nature-hating capitalist cynics of the oil business are well aware of what is at stake.

Protector Nomo told us: “We are here to stop this beautiful ancient woodland from being destroyed by the fossil fuel industry. It should be classified sacred land.”

Added local artist Heather Ackroyd: “For me, to be drilling for oil on this site is just sacrilege”.

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Lilith said: “This is a magical ancient place of beauty and noble trees and wildlife. When you have these feelings, this goes beyond the madness of any fossil fuel extraction or the folly of the proposed industrialisation of the Weald to something that touches our hearts and souls.

“There’s a surge that pulses through you and you feel a timeless connection with it all. How could they think about cutting down these trees, polluting this water? Trees are life. Water is life.”

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3. Newbury, the past and the future

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The battle to try and stop the Newbury bypass in the mid 1990s will go down in history as a key moment in the struggle for England’s sacred land. Out of local defeat came national victory as the road-building programme was abandoned for a generation in the face of massive resistance. Jim Hindle’s beautifully written and moving 2006 book Nine Miles has been republished in a 2016 edition by Underhill Books to mark the 20th anniversary of the Third Battle of Newbury.

In a new preface, Jim, from Sussex, writes of the current threat from new roads and dirty energy extraction which means “the peace and purity of our natural landscapes are under threat now as never before”. He adds: “The safeguarding of the natural world is not only a question of our mutual survival. It’s a coming home to our inheritance; to what it means to be one with the land, so that one day perhaps we can be held by her in turn, to walk her hills and woods and lanes in peace. Its promise is a token of what the future may still hold in store.”

In the excerpt below, Jim describes the start of the biggest treetop eviction the UK had ever seen, which lasted five days and saw more than 60 people arrested and 120 removed from the trees.

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They came in around eight o’clock. Six police Landrovers appeared first, pulling up in a diamond formation on the access road, immediately beneath my tree. Security started piling out of vehicles on top of the hill, assembling themselves into a yellow block of colour on the horizon. I reckoned there were at least five hundred of them: a neon legion growing by the minute.

As soon as they appeared we started shouting from the trees: yipping – high, long, war cries – banging drums and blowing whistles. We threw up a wall of noise to let them know we weren’t afraid, that we were up for anything the assembling horde had to throw at us.

More and more vehicles arrived, more and more security and police piled out onto the hillside until the whole scene had grown so big it had overtaken itself. It seemed ridiculous. Police ‘Evidence Gatherers’ appeared beneath the trees, pointing cameras up towards us. They had a new uniform – halfway between police and Star Wars extras. We shouted quotes from Monty Python at them: “We decline to speet in your jeneral direction you Engleesh peegs” and “Your mothurr smells of elderberries.” The Evidence Gatherers said nothing in return and continued to film us with all the emotion of robots.

Police moved in and dragged away anyone who hadn’t got up in a tree. This accounted for quite a few people – those who couldn’t climb and locals who had come to lend their support. It was the first wiping of the slate. A bunch of people had clambered up the climbing tree near the white tarp platform. Now they were getting pulled down by bailiffs. These men were dressed in chequered lumberjack shirts and hard hats with the rose of Lancashire on them. They were built like brick shit-houses and rough-handed with it.

newbury3

At the same time, teams of red-shirted, white-helmeted climbers were making their way into the trees. They ascended simultaneously in three separate places at the other side of the frontline, near where the press had been herded. They were fast: disconcerting blurs of rapid movement up the trunks.

Scuffles started to break out around the trees and the Valley echoed to screams and shouts and the crashing of people being lowered crudely through the branches. The sun climbed higher and the heat arose, adrenaline hung thick in the air and far below, the bluebells fell in swathes under the security guards’ feet. The security had moved down to secure the area cleared by the police and now lined the route of clearance. It felt like the first day of summer – there hadn’t been any heat like this before and their coming in like this, on May the First itself, had turned everything hideously inside out.

Jim Hindle, Nine Miles

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4. Hamburg calling! Attack the G20 summit!

hamburg
“Will you come with us into the danger zone?”

“Attack the G20 summit! Throw Hamburg into chaos! Destroy the European fortress!”

That’s the stirring call coming from northern Germany, eight months ahead of what promises to be a powerful eruption of resistance to the global capitalist system.

World leaders, including President Trump, will be gathering in Hamburg for the 12th G20 Summit and anarchists, leftists and Kurdish groups are organising now to ensure these enemies of humanity will not have an easy ride.

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Will President Trump feel safe in Hamburg in July?

Pledged an anarchist call-out for July 7 and 8: “They will feel the rage of the street, when they are rushing with their convoys through deserted districts and talk about the nightly attacks of the last few weeks”.

The authors recall how, in the late 1990s, summit protests were a real catalyst for radical resistance – “Individuals and groups came together, swapped ideas, were standing together behind the barricades and carried the flame of resistance back to their regions”.

Even police violence in Gothenburg and Genoa, or the “numerous infiltrated snitches” could not stop the development of a Europe-wide chaotic network of autonomous, anarchist and anti-authoritarian tendencies.

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Genoa, 2001

But then a defeatist meme started circulating, which said “summit hopping” was a waste of time and resistance to capitalism lay elsewhere. As radicals swallowed the ideological bait and stayed away, summit protests gradually went back to being NGO-led pseudo-dissent and the authorities breathed a sigh of relief.

Now the anti-capitalist fighting spirit has returned to the streets of Europe, as witnessed by events like the protests in Frankfurt against the European Central Bank in March 2015, the 2015 May Day riots in Milan or the months of anti-capitalist fury that shook France earlier in 2016.

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Frankfurt in March 2015

Says another international call-out message: “Let’s show that they can’t meet in Hamburg without disturbance. It’s time to take the streets and stand up against their world of destruction and sadness.”

It says that while the G20 political representatives meet in the centre of Hamburg – in the exhibition halls, the town hall, the Elbphilharmonie – the residents are supposed to simply get out of the way and put up with blocked streets, ID checks and evacuation of homes. A living city paralysed by the demands of power.

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Hamburg police

Summits like the G20 are essentially symbolic and, as has been pointed out in the past, anti-summit protests can therefore be understood as working on the same level, hijacking and subverting the publicity around the performance of the capitalist actors.

Says the message: “The main point of this performance is to provide the illusion that the political elites of global capitalism have everything well under control, that they are somehow capable of providing security, peace, livelihood and a real future perspective to the people of the world.

“But we are witnessing the exact opposite: the prevailing world order is a further escalating disorder of brutal social inequality, structurally embedded sexism and racism, ecological destruction and spreading wars. Millions of people are forced to flee, billions are struggling to survive and the number of people affected by social insecurity is continuously rising. At the same time a small global upper class is getting richer and richer.

Police at a Hamburg protest in 2013

“In many political groups and networks the discussions on how to organize the necessary protests and actions against the G20 Summit have already begun. G20 is an international summit so the planning of activities against it isn’t just a matter of local or German groups. We want to start with the international collaboration early to identify with as many groups, networks, movements and organisations as possible if and how G20 could be a place of a common struggle; a point where we can converge our criticism against the rulers of the world, against the European regime, against the German government and against the economic elites.”

An Action-Conference against the G20 Summit 2017 is being held in Hamburg on December 3-4 2016 at HAW (Hochschule für Angewandte Wissenschaften), Alexanderstraße 1 20099 Hamburg. The actual summit protests will be on July 7 and 8, 2017.

More info at:

https://www.g20hamburg.org/en

http://www.g20-hamburg.mobi/tag/nog20/

https://linksunten.indymedia.org/node/195308

g20-london
London, 2009

Although the G7 and G8 have more often been the target of big anti-capitalist mobilisations, the G20 summits also have a proud history of defiance and a shameful history of violent repression unleashed by the rattled ruling system.

In April 2009 big and angry protests against the G20 in London, to the background of the outrageous bail-out of the banking system, were met with police violence, leading to the death of newspaper seller Ian Tomlinson. After numerous police lies and cover-ups an inquest eventually found he was unlawfully killed, a cop was charged but eventually walked free.

g20-tomlinson
Ian Tomlinson is pushed over by police, causing his death

Meanwhile, windows of a branch of the RBS bank were ritually smashed in front of the world’s waiting media and Climate Camp protesters discovered that being “peaceful” doesn’t mean the state’s thugs will be nice to you.

A second banking crisis G20 summit in Pittsburgh, USA, in September 2009 saw a violent crackdown on demonstrators, amidst a virtual lockdown of the city. Police fired gas and pellet bags at about 2,000 protesters. They also used “sound cannons”, weapons previously used in Iraq and other US military operations – a sinister hint at the future that lies ahead of us in the brave new world of capitalo-fascism.

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Opposing the G20 in Pittsburgh in September 2009

In June 2010 some 10,000 protesters took to the streets of Toronto, Canada, to oppose the G20 summit there. More than 20,000 police, military, and security personnel were involved in suppressing the protests and more than 1,000 arrests were made, making it the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. In the aftermath of the protests, the Toronto Police Service and the Integrated Security Unit (ISU) of the G20 Toronto summit were heavily criticized for their brutality.

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Anti-G20 protests in Toronto in 2010
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Toronto, 2010

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5. J20: USA prepares for massive day of revolt

disruptj20

There has to be a positive side to the election of far right, racist, sexist, uber-capitalist Donald Trump as president of the USA and that side might well become apparent on January 20 2017.

While President Obama managed to run the Evil Empire in the usual ruthless manner while somehow appearing to be a “nice” human being, no such illusions are possible with Trump.

Across the world, the liberal facade cloaking the true face of the world’s leading exporter of violence and exploitation slipped away the moment the election results came through.

And in the US, Trump’s victory has sparked not only a wave of hate and racism but also a powerful mood of anger among the many millions who do not buy into his manipulative xenophobia – three in four potential American voters did not endorse him, after all.

It has been, basically, a kick up the backside for a lot of people who had been lured into a state of complacency by the shallow lies of a democracy whose choices are about as meaningful as the alternative of poisoning yourself with either Pepsi or Coke.

As a consequence, J20, the day of his inauguration, is shaping up to be a rather special day both in Washington, DC and all across the world’s fourth-largest country.

disruptj20pic

The Disrupt J20 website is calling for a “bold mobilization” against the new Trump regime.

It says: “On Friday, January 20, 2017, Donald Trump will be inaugurated as President of the United States. We call on all people of good conscience to join in disrupting the ceremonies.

“If Trump is to be inaugurated at all, let it happen behind closed doors, showing the true face of the security state Trump will preside over. It must be made clear to the whole world that the vast majority of people in the United States do not support his presidency or consent to his rule.

“Trump stands for tyranny, greed, and misogyny. He is the champion of neo-nazis and white Nationalists, of the police who kill the Black, Brown and poor on a daily basis, of racist border agents and sadistic prison guards, of the FBI and NSA who tap your phone and read your email.

“He is the harbinger of even more climate catastrophe, deportation, discrimination, and endless war. He continues to deny the existence of climate change, in spite of all the evidence, putting the future of the whole human race at stake.

fucktrump

“The KKK, Vladimir Putin, Golden Dawn, and the Islamic State all cheered his victory. If we let his inauguration go unchallenged, we are opening the door to the future they envision.

“Trump’s success confirms the bankruptcy of representative democracy. Rather than using the democratic process as an alibi for inaction, we must show that no election could legitimize his agenda. Neither the Democrats nor any other political party or politician will save us – they just offer a weaker version of the same thing. If there is going to be a positive change in this society, we have to make it ourselves, together, through direct action.

“From day one, the Trump presidency will be a disaster. #DisruptJ20 will be the start of the resistance. We must take to the streets and protest, blockade, disrupt, intervene, sit in, walk out, rise up, and make more noise and good trouble than the establishment can bear.

“The parade must be stopped. We must delegitimize Trump and all he represents. It’s time to defend ourselves, our loved ones, and the world that sustains us as if our lives depend on it – because they do.”

trumpstrike

Details of protests in Washington, DC are to be released nearer the time. But the site is also calling on those who cannot get to the capital to organize demonstrations and other actions for the night of January 20. There is also a call for a general strike to take place: “Organize a walkout at your school now. Workers: call out sick and take the day off. No work, no school, no shopping, no housework.”

The website adds: “If you are living outside the US, you can take action at US embassies, borders, or other symbols of neocolonial power. Our allegiance is not to ‘making America great again,’ but to all of humanity and the planet. Spread the word. Join the fight. #DisruptJ20.”

Some excellent analysis of the issues and opportunities at stake can be found on Submedia’s reliably high-quality Stimulator video bulletin.

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6. Two new books from Winter OakLayout 1

Two new titles have just been published by us here at Winter Oak Press – just in time for that annual anti-consumerist Christmas shopping spree…

Both of them challenge, on a fundamental level, the thinking that traps so many people within the fake “realities” of the industrial capitalist nightmare.

The first book is an important contribution by new Winter Oak author Ed Lord entitled Modern Madness: A Wild Schizoanalysis of Mental Distress in the Spaces of Modernity.

What are we to make of an age that delivers pandemic levels of mental illness and a physical environment at the point of catastrophic collapse? What is it that connects and infuses both modernity and psychiatry to make them seem like the only possible ways to organise our lives and aid our distress?

Could there be other options available? Other ways to explain and ameliorate our distress? What if mental distress is considered as much a matter of geography as it is of personal pathology?

These are some of the questions opened up for analysis in this radically ground-breaking investigation of mental distress in the spaces of the modern world. The philosophical legacies of Felix Guattari and John Zerzan are employed to take the reader on a profoundly challenging walk through Critical Theory, anarchy and decolonisation to create a route to sanity via a wild-schizoanalysis.

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The second of our new books is Nature, Essence and Anarchy. The starting point of this collection of essays from regular Acorn contributor Paul Cudenec (The Anarchist Revelation, Forms of Freedom etc) is that very future of our species and of planetary life is at threat from the unchecked growth of the industrial capitalist cancer and that there is a need for a powerful and coherent resistance.

Cudenec argues that there has been a general thought-paralysis which makes any authentic and holistic anti-capitalist philosophy difficult to conceive and communicate.  As a result of this, anarchist and anti-capitalist thinking has to look deeper than the surface of what is usually regarded as the political realm and root itself in an intellectual soil completely outside of capitalism and all its assumptions.

He writes: “As anarchists have long understood, another world is always possible and will flourish in our collective mind long before it becomes a physical reality. We need to imagine ourselves out of the suffocating confines of industrial capitalism, leaping over all the barriers of lies that it has erected around us.”

More info:

https://winteroak.org.uk/books/modern-madness/

https://winteroak.org.uk/books/nature-essence-and-anarchy/

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7. Hands off our Downs!

eastbourne

Anger is growing across Sussex, in southern England, as councils have been caught secretly selling off public downland in the South Downs National Park.

Seven years ago, countryside lovers in Worthing successfully mobilised to see off a council attempt to sell off fields on the slopes of Cissbury Ring, an iron age hill fort – and earlier this year the land was officially declared open access (see Acorn 20).

But now it has emerged that Brighton council (run by the Labour Party, for the benefit of those who imagine that makes any difference!) has started selling off some of its downland estate, without informing the public, let alone consulting them.

Said Keep Our Downs Public: “We do not believe that councillors are aware of the nature or implications of these sales. The Brighton Downland Estate, at more than 12,000 acres, is the largest and most important public asset within the new South Downs National Park.

“These sales open the door to privatisation of Brighton’s entire Downland Estate. Without democratic public accountability we must expect threats to public usage, neglect, damage to important wildlife habitat, inappropriate development, and more shooting and hunting.”

stop-the-downland-sell-off

Eastbourne’s (LibDem) council is also going ahead with its own sell-off of National Park downland, as reported in Acorn 26.

Eastbourne and district Friends of the Earth warn: “Eastbourne Borough Council intends to sell off most of the Eastbourne Downland Estate, putting at grave risk the rich nature and wildlife heritage of downland that was originally purchased by the council on behalf of Eastbourne residents for them to enjoy ‘in perpetuity’.”

Campaigners sprung into action in Eastbourne on Wednesday November 16, with more than 100 people protesting outside a council meeting at the town hall (reports here and here).

And on the morning of Saturday December 3 they are staging a downland rally and walk of opposition to the sell-off, meeting at Beachy Head visitor centre car park at 10.30 sharp. They say: “Stop the sale of our downland! Bring placards and banners. Let’s make a show of it!”

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Beachy Head near Eastbourne

Further West, Portsmouth City Council has voted unanimously to object to 20-year plans to drill for oil at Markwells Wood in the South Downs National Park, reports Drill or Drop. The Tory-led council in Hampshire joins growing opposition to the application by UK Oil & Gas, mainly because of concerns about risks to groundwater.

Other objectors include Portsmouth Water, which takes supplies from the South Downs chalk aquifer, the Environment Agency, the Council for the Protection of Rural England, Chichester City Council, eight parish councils and (currently) more than 1,300 people.

Meanwhile, members of the South Downs National Park Authority have called for stricter controls on how oil could be produced in future. At a meeting on November 10, the authority’s planning committee said a proposed policy banning hydraulic fracturing in the national park should be extended to other techniques including acid fracking or acidisation.

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Protesters in Portsmouth

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8. Acorninfo

A high-profile campaigner against the North Dakota Access Pipeline in the USA (see Acorn 27) has spoken of her brutal treatment at the hands of uniformed thugs working for the industrial capitalist mafia. Tara Houska (below), national campaign director for Honor the Earth, said she was arrested for criminal trespass, handcuffed with zip ties, kept in a “large chainmail dog kennel” for over six hours, strip-searched, jailed and charged with a crime later that day. “Native people are being hurt right now,” she said. “There were people being maced and tasered again yesterday. These things are happening.”

tara-houska

* * *

Capitalist contempt for any culture other than the culture of cash has once again been exemplified by McDonald’s, a universally recognised symbol of all that is tackiest in our modern world. The burger bullies are suing the Italian Renaissance city of Florence for €18m after their insultingly insensitive bid to open an outlet in the historic Piazza del Duomo was understandably turned down. Whined the widely-reviled American business: “We cannot accept discriminatory regulations that damage the freedom of private initiative”.

mcdonald_s___i_m_loving_it_by_pushok

* * *

Cracks are appearing in the US empire’s control of eastern Europe, with socialist-backed anti-NATO candidate Rumen Radev gaining a landslide victory in Bulgaria’s presidential elections. Said one analyst: “Only a few years ago, it was unthinkable to hear criticism of Western governments. This is no longer the case”. And elections in Moldova also struck a blow against NATO and the EU, with presidential victory going to Igor Dodon of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova. Dodon (below) had described his campaign as being “against the oligarchs, against those who have robbed our country and want to destroy it”.

dodon

* * *

The morphing of “western democracies” into blatantly authoritarian states continues in the UK with the passing of Orwellian new laws allowing massive levels of state snooping. Whistleblower Edward Snowden declared that in passing the Investigatory Powers Act “the UK has just legalised the most extreme surveillance in the history of western democracy”. The good news, of course, is that the capitalist system is only being forced to drop its phoney dissent-numbing pretence of niceness because it knows it is rapidly losing control…

ministry_of_information

* * *

Google headquarters in Munich, Germany, were attacked with red lacquer and bitumen on the night of November 6 to 7 2016, reports Insurrection News. Said the activists: “Information is power, who owns it is powerful. The main business of Google is the capitalistic utilization of information, which makes them one of the most powerful corporations in the world.” They also highlighted Google’s key role in the sinister and fascistic transhumanist movement: “Transhumanists are convinced that the way out of a world which they have decisively destroyed is the transition from human to machine. Its main players are made up of an ultra-neoliberal right which has its starting point at the Silicon Valley manufacturing center.”

fuckgoogle

* * *

The Anarchist Action Network has announced the date and time of its next meeting – Sunday December 4 2016 at Cherry Reds Café, 88-92 John Bright St, Birmingham, B1 1BN. Meet-up at 1pm, for a 2pm-4.30pm session. Says the AAN: “The network meets every three months, in a different town or city, to plan for future events and to continue building a movement that organises with consensus decision-making. We have adopted the PGA hallmarks and have other principles that define us. We organised two ‘Anarchist Travelling Circuses’, in South Wales and East London, as well as numerous other events, demonstrations and weeks of action, and we now plan to organise a third A.T.C. and make other plans for the network in the months ahead. We’d like to welcome you (except cops and journos) to be a part of this.”

aan logo

* * *

Acorn quote: ““Factories, machines and bureaucracies are the real pillars of capitalist oppression”. Miguel Amorós, Elementary Foundations of the Anti-Industrial Critique 

factory

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

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The Acorn – 28

acornmastheadnew1

Number 28


In this issue:

  1. What fracking democracy?
  2. James Lovelock – enemy of Gaia
  3. Criminalising anti-capitalism
  4. Resisting the neoliberal coup in Brazil
  5. London Anarchist Bookfair 2016
  6. Acorninfo

1. What fracking democracy?

lancs4

“This is not democracy, it is dictatorship”. So said one member of the Lancashire farming community after the UK government this month overruled Lancashire County Council’s decision and gave Cuadrilla the green light to start fracking in the north-west of England.

Others were of the same opinion. Pam Foster, a Residents Action on Fylde Fracking  campaigner, said:  “This is a total denial of democracy. Our parish council, our borough council, our county council all threw out this application. We have pursued every democratic channel we can do.”

Pat Davies, chair of Preston New Road Action Group, said: “This is a sad day as it is clear to all that this government neither listens nor can it be trusted to do the right thing for local communities. It is deplorable that an industry that has been rejected on every level has inflicted itself on Preston New Road. Profit clearly comes before people.”

Jackie Sylvester, a local resident, told The Guardian, “They’ve gone against the will of the people. I think the people of England don’t realize that once this starts it’s not going to stop and there’s going to be hundreds of drills.”

Another supporter of Frack Free Lancashire, Heather Speak, said, “I’m so, so angry that a government minister has turned their back on local democracy.”

lancs1

Sadly, the government’s decision hardly comes as a surprise to anyone who understands the relationship between industrial capitalism and its so-called “democracy”.

The whole thing is a manipulative trick, designed to give the public the impression that their political rulers are answerable to their views, while ensuring that this is never in fact the case.

It usually more or less works, because there are numerous layers in place to maintain the illusion. The mass media, for example (and the educational system, academia, the book publishing industry and so on) help to “manufacture consent”, in Noam Chomsky’s phrase, by presenting certain “facts” as being true, certain issues as being “relevant” or “irrelevant”, certain viewpoints as being “plausible”, certain futures as being “possible” or “impossible”.

The whole democratic system runs very smoothly indeed if you can make sure that the wishes of the population coincide with what you have in mind for them anyway!

Sometimes, this doesn’t work. The build-up to the Iraq war of 2003 is an example of this. The lying propaganda was so blatant, so desperate, that people just didn’t believe it and took to the streets in their millions to say so.

2003-war-protest

Another line of defence for the system is the way that politics works, right down to the local authority level. Even local councillors are usually representatives of central political parties. Representation itself is a step away from real participatory democracy, but someone who represents a political party no longer even theoretically represents the community which elected them.

On top of this come the various restrictions on local authorities’ options laid down by Whitehall – the parameters for local decision-making are very narrow.

Sometimes, this doesn’t work, either! Such was the case in Lancashire, where the threat of fracking was so alarming, and public opposition so motivated, that even the normally tame and controllable local authorities said “no”.

lancs3

It is at moments like this that the illusion of “democracy” is no longer sustainable. The British state, which is a capitalist body operating solely in the interests of capitalists, wants to go ahead with fracking. So it has overruled the Lancashire County Council decision.

Likewise, in 2003 the Blair government, which was part of the global neoliberal military complex, wanted to go ahead with the invasion and occupation of Iraq. So it ignored the public.

This obviously creates something of a crisis for the system, because the fog suddenly lifts and a large number of people see that they are not living in the green and pleasant land of a benign democracy at all, but in the concrete and razor wire prison camp of a corporate dictatorship.

There are various ways that the system copes with this. One is to wait for the whole thing to blow over, to blame certain individual politicians or political parties, to pull people back into the illusion of democratic choice.

Another parallel approach is to ramp up the propaganda, attack their opponents as dangerous extremists (see below) and try to cut them off from the support of the population.

Along with these, and other techniques, will invariably come an increase in political repression and in the levels of the violence that capitalism has always used, and always will use, to impose its tyranny on a population which fundamentally does not share its core “values”.

The frack-free movement in the UK has already faced severe levels of intimidation and this will only spiral as resistance continues.

Balcombe fracking protest

As well as physically attacking people who get in its way, the capitalist system also spies on its subjects in a manner that would once have been associated only with the Nazi Gestapo, the East German Stasi or the Soviet KGB.

It was confirmed this month that, for more than a decade, British security agencies have been secretly and unlawfully collecting massive amounts of our supposedly confidential personal data.

And it’s getting worse. On October 10, the Bristol Cable presented evidence that Avon and Somerset Constabulary and five other forces had bought devices that can spy on thousands of mobile phones at a time.

Says its report: “‘IMSI-catchers’ are surveillance devices that can both track the movements of mobile phone users within a given area, and intercept texts and calls. The potential scope of IMSI-catchers’ capabilities is frightening.

“The data they harvest creates a live-updating map of everyone in a certain area. Some models can intercept hundreds of mobiles a minute. The devices can also block communications, and in some cases can intercept the text messages and phone calls – and read or listen to them – of thousands of people in the vicinity.”

imsi

Two days later, the evidence in question disappeared – Avon and Somerset police had removed the appropriate documents from the internet because of “national security” concerns.

As the farmer wisely said: “This is not democracy, it is dictatorship”.

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2. James Lovelock – enemy of Gaia

lovelock1

Fracking is a great idea, its opponents “have behaved deplorably instead of being reasonably sensible”, and climate change doesn’t matter because happily the world will soon be taken over by robots.

To anyone who has not really been paying attention, it may seem surprising that these opinions come from none other than James Lovelock, the former NASA scientist regarded as the creator of the environmentalist concept of the Earth as Gaia, a living entity.

But, in fact, the views he expresses in a recent Guardian article are totally consistent with the pro-industry, anti-nature worldview he has been expressing for decades – make no mistake, Lovelock is no friend of Gaia’s.

In his work, he repeatedly twists the idea of a self-regulating planet in order to suggest that we need not take action against pollution. He argues, for instance, that we should regard toxic industrial waste as being like cow dung. It is not so much pollution as a “valued gift”, he absurdly suggests.

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Industrial waste is a “valued gift” says Lovelock

Lovelock is a supporter of nuclear power and totally refuses to accept that industrialisation is affecting the health of the planetary organism, even asking in a 1986 paper: “Could it be that our very deep concern about the state of the world is a form of global hypochondria?”

He actively discourages resistance to industrial capitalism. A newspaper article about his 2014 book A Rough Ride to the Future reports: “The scientist and inventor James Lovelock claims we should stop trying to save the planet from global warming and instead retreat to climate controlled cities”. And it quotes Lovelock as concluding: “We should give up vainglorious attempts to save the world”.

Lovelock also explicitly supports transhumanism, the peak of industrial capitalist insanity which dreams of a merger between the human species and machines.

He says: “Our species has a limited lifespan. If we can somehow merge with our electronic creations in a larger scale endosymbiosis, it may provide a better next step in the evolution of humanity and Gaia”.

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Lovelock as a young scientist

In the light of this, it should come as no surprise to find Lovelock expressing hostility to green thinking in his latest Guardian interview.

There is a sickening hypocrisy to the way the corporate media builds him up as some kind of ecological prophet, only to delight in relaying his latest anti-environmental statements in order to bolster their cap-doffing defence of the status quo.

For the Guardian interviewer he is an “incorrigible subversive”, as if it were somehow clever and edgy to support fracking and nuclear power, as if there were anything remotely daring or dangerous about ridiculing opposition to industrial capitalism on the tired technocratic basis that it is “totally unscientific”.

Lovelock is now 97 years old and when he dies we can expect a flood of adulatory obituaries both from the industrial capitalist establishment and from those defenders of the living planet who never saw through his sly ideological scam.  There will probably be a special pull-out supplement in The Observer, sponsored by Shell.

But Gaia herself will be shedding no tears.

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3. Criminalising anti-capitalism

riot-police

Accusations of antisemitism against critics of Israeli policy have become a familiar feature of the political landscape, particularly since Jeremy Corbyn took over leadership of the Labour Party in the UK.

There are now even proposals that the use of the word “Zionist” in a negative context should become a criminal offence.

But a still more sinister trend is the attempt to smear any criticism of the global capitalist system with the same label, even when no reference is made to Israel or Zionism.

This came to the fore lately in the unlikely context of the US presidential campaign, when the allegation was levelled against Donald Trump. Trump is not someone we would ever want to defend and we are obviously totally opposed to his right-wing, misogynistic, xenophobic capitalist views, but the basis of this particular accusation is cause for general concern.

The Guardian reported on October 14 that in addition to his sexist behaviour, Trump had been “invoking shocking antisemitic tropes”.

However, later in the same story we learn that this is based on a comment by Trump about his rival Hillary Clinton meeting “in secret with international banks to plot the destruction of US sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers”.

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Whatever you think about the idea of “US sovereignty”, it is clear that this statement is not in itself antisemitic, making no reference at all to Jewishness.

The suggestion that it was offensive seems to have come initially from Jonathan Greenblatt, the head of the Anti Defamation League, who tweeted: “@teamtrump should avoid rhetoric&tropes that historically have been used ag. Jews & still spur #antisemitism. Lets keep hate out of cmpgn”

The Guardian was at pains to point out that “Trump has not made any explicitly antisemitic statements” but echoed Greenblatt in claiming his comments “bore similarities to antisemitic tropes like the Protocols of the Elders of Zion”.

Similarities? So does any critical mention of the global banking system now amount to a “shocking” form of coded antisemitism even without any reference to Jews? Is it now a “hate” crime to denounce capitalism?

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This would be a less pertinent question if it was just Trump we were talking about, as there may well be some kind of hate lurking behind his words.

But the very deliberate use of supposed “antisemitism” to attack the left wing of the Labour Party in the UK suggests there is something more significant and worrying here: a coordinated long-term ideological manoeuvre to delegitimise and then criminalise criticism of the capitalist system.

This meme was already apparent in 2003, when Mark Strauss wrote a book called Antiglobalism’s Jewish Problem.

Here, he approvingly quotes the high-profile French Zionist banker Roger Cukierman as labelling the anti-globalisation movement “an anti-Semitic brown-green-red alliance”.

Strauss tries to persuade his readers that, in his own words, “anti-capitalist rhetoric provides intellectual fodder for far right groups”.

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Hillary Clinton at the Carnegie Endowment, which was behind Strauss’s book

To understand the motivation behind Strauss’s stance, it is useful to glance at his background and connections. His book was published by his employer at the time, Foreign Policy, a journal then owned  by the neoliberal CIA-linked Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

He was previously a research assistant on the Foreign Policy Studies program at the Brookings Institution, a high-profile US “Think Tank“, recently accused of having a “cozy relationship” with its corporate donors.

The Brookings Institution gets funding from the likes of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, bankers JPMorgan Chase, David Rubenstein (co-founder of the extremely dodgy Carlyle Group), John L. Thornton (former president of Goldman Sachs) and the state of Qatar. It also enjoys excellent relations with the CIA, whose director John Brennan gave a key speech there in July 2016.

CIA director John Brennan speaks at the Brookings Institution

A common theme of the propaganda in question is to claim that anti-capitalism equals anti-Americanism which, in turn, equals a disguised form of antisemitism.

In 2004, Josef Joffe (editor and publisher of Die Zeit, climate change denier, member of the AJC Transatlantic Institute and the Trilateral Commission) claimed that the famous wrecking of a McDonald’s in France by anti-globalists including José Bové was part of a broadly “antisemitic” outlook which included support for Palestinian rights.

Joffe argued that Kapitalismuskritik, the criticism of capitalism, is a “mainstay of the antisemitic faith, a charge that has passed smoothly from Jews to America. Like Jews, Americans are money-grubbers who know only the value of money, and the worth of nothing. Like Jews, they seek to reduce all relationships to exchange and money. Like them, Americans are motivated only by profit, and so they respect no tradition.”

In the right-wing British magazine The Spectator in 2005, Wolfgang Munchau warned that in Germany there was “a poisonous cocktail of the three big As: anti-Americanism, anti-Semitism and anti-capitalism”.

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Is this antisemitism?

And the same trope turned up at the time of the Occupy movement in the USA, with Joe Carter, web editor of the right-wing First Things journal, declaring: “The brand of leftism on display at Occupy Wall Street is anti-capitalist and at the core of anti-Semitism is a mistrust of capitalism and a fear of economic liberty… Wherever you find a group that is railing against capitalism, it won’t be long before you attract types who want to blame Jews.”

This line is, of course, still being pushed today. An opinion piece by Dave Rich in the New York Times in September 2016 also seeks to link an “anti-American, anti-imperialist strain of the British left” with “a visceral objection to Israel’s existence” and thus also with antisemitism.

Rich, like the other opinion-shapers spreading this “antisemitism” meme, is hardly a disinterested observer. He is deputy director of communications at the Community Security Trust, a UK organisation which has been at the forefront of attempts to promote this broader concept of so-called “new antisemitism” and which, according to investigative journalist Asa Winstanley, “has strong links with government departments”.

Theresa May, now the UK’s Prime Minister, was even guest of honour at the CST’s annual dinner earlier in 2016.

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State-induced paranoia conflating dissent with “extremism” and “terrorism” has already had a chilling effect on freedom in the UK.

Police monitoring group Netpol says it has spoken to many people “who are alarmed by the stifling of political debate in schools and in further and higher education – including discussion on issues like ‘eco-terrorism‘ and support for Palestine – and who are more worried than ever about attending political meetings or engaging in online discussion”.

Building up a fake narrative according to which anti-capitalism is regarded as being close to antisemitism can only serve extreme right-wing agendas.

Not only does it risk creating a smokescreen for real race-hate antisemitism, but it will also  make it easier for the British state to brand anti-capitalism “extremist” under its sinister and Orwellian “counter-ideology campaign”.

With the Home Office declaring earlier this year that new legislation will give police “a full range of powers to deal with extremism”, criminalisation of views fundamentally challenging the global industrial capitalist system seems to be approaching at speed.

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4. Resisting the neoliberal coup in Brazil

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The headline in the Financial Times tells you all you need to know about what the people of Brazil should expect in the wake of the “constitutional coup” against former president Dilma Rousseff.

“Brazil’s exchange chief rejoices at post-impeachment opportunities” it declares, with the article below explaining that “Edemir Pinto — chief executive of BM&FBovespa, the country’s exchange operator — can barely contain his excitement”.

While she was ostensibly impeached for manipulating government accounts, it seems Rousseff’s real crime was “stunting the growth of the country’s capital markets”.

The FT explains that the new president, Michel Temer, has appointed “some of the market’s most respected figures” to run the finance ministry and Brazil’s state-controlled companies, setting the country up for what Mr Pinto hopes will be “a shock of capitalism”.

“The economic team put together by today’s government is a dream team … they are music to the market’s ears,” says Mr Pinto.

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The coup has not been music to the ears of anti-capitalists such as Brazil’s landless rural workers’ movement, the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (MST).

It has condemned the neoliberal seizure of power and refuses to recognise the Temer government.

It has also pledged to resist: “We announce that our mobilization does not end with the coup now installed. We will continue fighting, organizing the people of the countryside and building unity with urban struggles.”

Because it challenges neoliberal rule, the MST has already been declared a “criminal” organisation by the state and protests are being met with brutal police repression.

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The MST warns that the impeachment is “not the last act of violation of the Brazilian people’s rights promoted by economic and political elites of Brazil”.

It has denounced  the government’s attempt to reduce workplace rights, pension rights and to scrap the Unified Health System, its bid to privatize the assets of the Brazilian people and the commodification of land, water and minerals for foreign capitalists and the complete halt to agrarian reform.

In a video interview, Ana Moraes of the MST explains that it is gearing up to take part in a general strike in November.

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But she says she expects the neoliberal system to respond with its usual levels of violence: “Repression is a characteristic of fascist governments that implement a coup”.

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5. London Anarchist Bookfair 2016

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It’s nearly time for “Anarchist Christmas” in the UK, with the 2016 London Anarchist Bookfair being staged on Saturday October 29, from 10am to 7pm.

The venue this year is Park View School, West Green Road, London N15 3QR, near Turnpike Lane and Seven Sisters tube stations.

As ever there will be hosts of stalls (notably from Active Distribution who stock Winter Oak titles!) offering not just books , but journals, posters, badges, t-shirts, stickers and so on, plus a packed programme of meetings.

There is never a problem finding things worth going to at the London Bookfair – the real headache is that, with workshops and talks being held simultaneously in no fewer than 12 different spaces, there are too many to choose from and you are inevitably going to miss something interesting!

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For instance, from 11am to 12 noon there is the chance to Meet the Anti Fascist Network and also to discuss Fallacies of class analysis in the conception of black existence.

From 12 to 1pm, Earth First! are hosting a meeting on how to “help make next year’s Direct Action camp even better”; the Anarchist Federation are presenting a workshop on Capitalism, Anarchism and Mental Health; the Empty Cages Collective are talking about growing resistance to prisons as a frontline of anti-state struggle and, elsewhere at the very same time, there is a meeting on Resisting Political Undercover Policing.

And all of this clashes with Netpol’s workshop, Cover Up! The Case for Protest Anonymity (12-1pm), which will explore how anarchists overcome barriers to greater protest anonymity, such as targeting and arrest by police, separation from other protesters and questions of legitimacy.

Meanwhile, Chris Knight will be Decoding Chomsky in a 12pm to 2pm workshop, which also overlaps not just with the Radical Routes session on housing and workers’ co-ops (1-2pm) but also with Haringey Solidarity’s lessons from four decades of radical anti-authoritarian community action in north London (1-2pm) and the Anarchist Federation meeting on Land and Anarchism: The Struggle for the Commons.

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And you wouldn’t want to miss the 1pm to 2pm session with Silvia and Costa, arrested and convicted with Billy for an attack with explosives against a Nanotechnology Institute in Switzerland. They encourage us to Stand up Against the Technoworld, adding: “Resistance is not only possible but now more than ever necessary for a free and wild world”.

From 2pm to 4pm the Anti Raids Network are running a workshop on Anarchism and the struggle against the borders, while at exactly the same time Robin Yassin-Kassab and Leila Al Shami will be talking on Syrians in Revolution and War.

Attending either of these two-hour sessions would mean missing Andrea Needham’s first-hand account of how a small group of women broke into a British Aerospace factory in Warton in 1996 and disarmed a Hawk warplane (2-3pm) and Working Class Anger in West London (2-3pm).

It would also mean missing Iain McKay mark the impending centenary of the Russian Revolution by explaining how the Marxist vision of “socialism” harmed the revolution and deliberately shunted it towards state capitalism (2-3pm), Donald Rooum presenting new editions of What is Anarchism? and Wildcat Anarchist Comics (3-4pm), and also a report on the current police crackdown on anarchists in the Czech Republic (3-4pm).

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And all of this clashes with Climate organising against Green Capitalism, hosted by London Rising Tide and Corporate Watch, who have just brought out the excellent A-Z of Green Capitalism, as featured in Acorn 27.

It doesn’t stop there. Boycott Workfare’s 2016 workshop (4-5pm) coincides with Brian Morris’s talk on Anthropology, Ecology and Anarchism and a promising workshop on Art and Anarchism.

But going to any of those means not going to Capitalism and the car: how the ‘need’ for the car was manufactured and what this means today from Corporate Watch (4-5pm): “Cars are choking our health and the environment, dividing our communities and locking us in debt. A new road building programme is under way in the UK. What can we do about it?”

From 5pm the London IWW Unwaged Workers Group will be proposing the creation of a Revolutionary Labour Exchange and in another part of the venue two anarchists who have recently returned from several months living and working in Rojava will be explaining why, in their view, Rojava. It’s complicated…

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South London in Struggle: strategies in local resistance (5-6pm) will explain how over the past few years a number of groups have emerged in South London to fight against state violence in the forms of policing, housing, and immigration enforcement.

And at the same time as all this , Kevin Eady will be asking What have the Anarchists ever done for Us? (5-6pm) in which he will address other key questions such as “How did Marlon Brando get things so badly wrong?”, “Why do Greek anarchists love sausage?” and “How did the long-running anarchist controversy over facial hair finally get resolved?”

Decisions, decisions!

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6. Acorninfo

A massive show of defiance against the proposed new Nantes airport in France was staged on October 8, with 40,000 people turning up to protest at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. The feared eviction attempt on the ZAD protest zone (see Acorn 27) has happily not yet materialised, no doubt largely thanks to the prospect of spirited mass resistance. The government’s latest comments seem to hint that they may prefer to put off any confrontation until after the 2017 presidential elections.

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* * *

Britain’s complicity in the USA’s covert drone war has  been exposed in secret documents from US whistleblower Edward Snowden. They show that work on targeting the victims of the drones was conducted at “RAF” Menwith Hill in North Yorkshire, a base which is in fact largely staffed by the US National Security Agency (NSA). Meanwhile, this ten-minute video interview with David Vine, author of Base Nation, outlines how the USA uses its network of 100s of military bases in no fewer than 80 different countries to physically impose its global hegemony.

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“RAF” Menwith Hill in Yorkshire

* * *

The “Aleppo Media Centre” in Syria, which came up with the widely publicised photo of the “dusty boy”, is funded by the French Foreign Office, the EU and the US, reveals independent journalist Vanessa Beeley. She writes of the manipulation of news coverage from Syria: “This shadow media enclave is being installed in order to erect the US-NATO propaganda tent – one which suppresses and silences the voices which would normally be heard from inside Syria, but which are blacked-out in favour of contrived, and hoax imagery, and other twisted reporting that categorically refers to Islamist terrorists as ‘rebels’ and ‘freedom fighters’.”

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* * *

A public building on the Franco-Italian border, owned by the SNCF (French railways), has been occupied by migrants and anti-border activists. The squat in the Roya Valley was opened  on the night of October 17, but by October 19 was surrounded by riot police, with eviction alerts circulating. The occupiers said the situation on the border was getting worse all the time, with hundreds of people trapped at Ventimiglia and dozens of daily deportations to the south of Italy. People refusing to show ID were being beaten or given electric shocks and the French army was hunting down people, including minors, in the mountains. They said: “We refuse to play the game of the states and the humanitarian organisations who are collaborating with these deadly arrangements. We are asserting our ability to self-organise.”

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* * *

After our report in Acorn 27 on natural mutual aid among ants, a reader drew our attention to this article about how collective interests dominate the evolution of insects. It reveals that “group living insects have developed a unique capability of mounting collective anti-parasite defences, such as allogrooming [social grooming] and corpse removal from the nest”. We human beings like to think we are far superior to mere insects, of course, but maybe favouring individualism and competition over solidarity and co-operation isn’t as clever as all that…

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* * *

The UK’s Anarchist Action Network will be having its next national meeting at the start of December, although the date had not been confirmed at the time of publication – check for updates on its website. In the true anarchist tradition, the network is made up of autonomous groups and individuals, with no leaders or “central committee”. Meetings are open to everyone except cops and journalists.

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* * *

Guerilla Tactics: How Activists Can Fight to Win is the title of a thought-provoking article on the London anarchist website rabble.org.uk, drawing on the tactics of Che Guevara, the IRA, Sun Tzu, General Von Clausewitz and Nestor Makhno to suggest ways of taking on the capitalist system. It insists: “Our situation isn’t hopeless at all – by using overwhelming force to win small victories, gradually gaining people, resources and confidence as we go, we can build a strong resistance movement despite the strength of the rich and powerful.”

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* * *

Acorn quote: “Deep down my attitude is a protest against the fate that has made me a poet in an industrial age”. Herbert Read

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

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The Acorn – 27

acornmastheadnew1

Number 27


In this issue:

  1. ZAD alert! Eco-zone warns of imminent attack
  2. Indigenous peoples lead fight against fracking pipeline
  3. Tearing off capitalism’s “green” mask
  4. I don’t want to fuck a robot
  5. Thailand slips into dictatorship
  6. France – the social war kicks off again
  7. The Sultan and the Sage
  8. Acorninfo

1. ZAD alert! Eco-zone warns of imminent attack

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An important focus of European anti-capitalist resistance is likely to come under brutal attack from the industrial system any day now, activists are warning.

Official papers authorising the start of work on a new Nantes airport in France were signed on September 14 and the ZAD (Zone à Défendre or Zone to Defend) is currently on full alert.

Mainstream media are reporting that the protesters are ready to resist any attempt at eviction of the zone at Notre-Dame-des-Landes (NDDL).

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Since it was established in 2008, the ZAD at NDDL has become much more than an eco protest camp. It is a symbol of resistance, an autonomous zone where the cops stay away and people are able to experiment with different ways of living, growing their own food, baking their own bread, publishing their own newspaper, running their own radio station and, most recently, setting up their own library.

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The French state, in cahoots with corporate developer Vinci, has long wanted to get rid of the ZAD. A previous attempt in 2012, involving 1,200 police and two helicopters, failed when the cleared areas were rapidly reoccupied.

Now, with the help of the extra police powers under the “state of emergency” introduced and prolonged as an “anti-terrorist” measure, and in the wake of six months of state violence against the social revolt around the Loi Travail across France, the authorities are set to try again.

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Planning the defence

There were strong rumours this week that a massive military-style operation to evict the ZAD could start as soon as September 26 and 27 – according to media reports, as many as 3,000 gendarmes (military-style police) could be involved.

One activist said: “All the hotels in the area are full, gendarmes are not allowed to take annual leave for the coming month, schools and churches around the ZAD are closing simultaneously on September 26.” There is talk of military equipment having been loaned to the gendarmes.

It also seems likely that the state will make use of tooled-up private security thugs, who were used against anti-nuclear protesters at Bure earlier in the year – making it easier to deny responsibility for injuries (or even deaths) among activists.

Private security thugs

The ZAD has issued an urgent wishlist of materials and equipment needed to defend the zone, including palettes, tyres, paint, bikes, oil lamps, boots, socks, phones, radios and walkie-talkies.

The full French version is here and the English one here.

There is already a call-out for supporters to go to the ZAD for a pre-arranged solidarity mobilisation on Saturday October 8.

Some UK supporters of the ZAD can be contacted via ukzad@riseup.net and have a website at https://network23.org/ukzad/

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2. Indigenous peoples lead fight against fracking pipeline

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Resistance is growing across the USA and beyond to a £3.8 billion thousand-mile pipeline being built to carry fracked oil – forcing the courts to order a temporary halt to part of the work.

As well as damaging vast areas of countryside, the Dakota Access Pipeline is also planned to cross the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and affect numerous other sites sacred to indigenous nations.

The struggle to halt the pipeline has brought together more than 100 indigenous groups and sparked a wave of solidarity actions on top of the feisty on-site resistance.

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Like the ZAD in France, the conflict is a powerful illustration of the single most significant task facing the human species at this stage in our collective history – how to defy and destroy the industrial capitalist cancer which threatens all life on the planet.

Of course, where there is resistance there is always repression and in Dakota there have  been dozens of arrests, a local state of emergency declared and the protest camp’s water supply has been controversially cut off.

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Native American activist Winona LaDuke said: “So, a lot of people are coming here, united, a whole host of Native and non-Native people. And there are a lot of people that just do not believe that this should happen any more in this country, that are very willing to put themselves on the line, non-Indian people, you know, as well as tribal members, and they are here. And it is a beautiful place to defend.”

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#NoDAPL Solidarity explain that, if completed, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), would run from the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota to Peoria, Illinois, passing underneath the Missouri River, the longest river on the North American continent.

They add: “Construction of the DAPL would engender a renewed fracking-frenzy in the Bakken shale region, as well as endanger a source of fresh water for the Standing Rock Sioux and 8 million people living downstream”.

But the fight has reached much further than the lands actually threatened by the pipeline. Say #NoDAPL Solidarity: “The DAPL is a massive project being organized by a shady group of the world’s largest fossil-fuel companies and banks. They have offices in cities around the world. Putting direct, nonviolent pressure on the corporations building and funding this project is critical for supporting frontline resistance to DAPL.”

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This month, there has been a wave of solidarity actions across the USA. Protesters have taken the fight directly to the banks pushing the pipeline. In Chicago, a zine has been released and protesters occupied a CitiBank. In Washington DC a TD Bank was shut down.

Controversy also surrounds the role of UK firm G4S in the violent repression of anti-pipeline protesters, which has notoriously included the use of dogs (see this video)

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3. Tearing off capitalism’s “green” mask

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An excellent new guide to the insidious threat of “green” capitalism has been published by Corporate Watch in the UK.

It is a worrying trend of our times that too many environmentalists are taken in by the lie that “alternative” energy sources and techno-fixes are all that are needed to save the world, rather than the destruction of the entire money-based industrial capitalist system that is choking it to death.

The authors of A-Z of Green Capitalism explain:”Capitalism thrives on crisis, and the multiple global environmental crises, including climate change and habitat and biodiversity loss, are creating new markets from which to generate profit. Those promoting green capitalism argue that if nature was valued correctly it will not only be protected, but even enhanced, along with the health of the economy and well-being in society.

“However, it is a contradiction in terms. Capitalism is fundamentally exploitative of people and the natural world, it is not and cannot be ‘green’. Green capitalism involves various institutions, including governments, corporations, think tanks, charities and NGOs, implementing policies, practices and processes to incorporate nature into capitalist market systems.

“It takes the same capitalist ideas and values that create environmental crises – i.e. continual economic growth, private property, profit and ‘free’ markets – and applies them to the natural world as a way to solve those crises. It serves to maintain capitalism’s dominance, both through finding new ways to generate profit, and as a way of protecting it from criticism of being environmentally destructive”.

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The guide insists that the “values” of capitalism are simply incompatible with the interests of the living planet, whatever it may claim.

“Green capitalism functions as a way to deflect questions over the role of capitalism in creating the problems in the first place, or its capacity to deal with them.

“Nature includes all lifeforms, including other sentient beings. These other forms of life don’t exist just for the purpose of serving human needs. Nature has its own inherent value that cannot be expressed in financial or economic terms. All of this is ignored or even denied by the anthropocentric (human-centred) approach that capitalism and other exploitative systems are built on.

“This guide is intended as an introduction to the ideas surrounding green capitalism as well as the alternatives to it. We hope it will support attempts to resist the threat of green capitalism and create space for real ecological alternatives”.

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Meanwhile, an article in September’s The Ecologist magazine explores why the idea of degrowth – which challenges the basic assumptions of the capitalist economy – is “gaining momentum”.

Writes Nick Meynen: “Ten years ago only a few professors and some activists used the word ‘degrowth’ as an alternative to the neoliberal model of perpetual economic growth. Today, ‘degrowth economics’ is an activist academic discipline with dozens of top-quality peer reviewed papers, widely translated books like Degrowth. A Vocabulary for a new era and massive bi-annual conferences – like the ongoing 2016 Budapest Degrowth Conference and Week.

“At least one thing unites those activists and scholars: they all agree that the basic assumption of the necessity of economic growth is fatally flawed and in urgent need of correction simply because it undermines the conditions for humanity to thrive”.

See also:

Naive illusions are propping up capitalism

“The system has got to be destroyed”

Degrowth – real anti-capitalism

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4. I don’t want to fuck a robot

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“We will happily be having sex with robots soon, according to scientists,” announced a story in The Independent on September 7. It continued: “The ‘sexbots’ could be better than humans in bed and we could be looking at human-robot marriages by the year 2050, experts have claimed. Popularity of the machines has been rising as their realism continues to improve and soon could replace human companionship altogether.”

I don’t even know where to start with this! Perhaps with the use of the word “with”. You can’t have sex “with” robots because there is no mutuality involved. A robot is not a being, but a manufactured item, a machine giving the false impression of being alive.

But then maybe the word “sex” is even wronger. We don’t generally talk about “having sex” when there is only one person involved – I believe the usual term is “masturbation”. We’re not talking about “having sex with” anyone at all, but about the use (and, more importantly, the purchase!) of an advanced mechanical aid to wanking.

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If they were honest about this, it wouldn’t be quite so bad. It’s the lying that I can’t stomach, and particularly the lie that there is no real difference between a living human being and a non-living consumer product.

It’s bad enough that in our messed-up society the “other” person is often reduced to the role of object by the self-obsessed modern individual. We see no other “subject” there, nobody real and sentient like Number One (supreme source of all reality and priority).

But this takes the whole thing a step further, to the point of assuming that we can no longer even tell the difference between appearance and reality, that we are so uninterested in the consciousness within another person (even one with whom we make love) that we would “happily” (there is a hint of irony here, surely? please!) accept a mere copy of another human being so long as this object fulfils a particular limited and rather basic physical role.

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Let me be blunt about this: I don’t want to fuck a robot. If I do happen to have sex with anyone in the future I would very much like the experience to involve:

  • mutual attraction
  • mutual tenderness
  • non-programmed responsiveness
  • skin
  • odours (other than burnt plastic)
  • sweat and the usual organic fluids
  • conversation before and after, if not during
  • a moment of intense near-spiritual connection with an amazing human being (preferably)
  • a human being (as a bare minimum)

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So, Mister Technoballs, away with your smart-seductions and artificially augmented ardour. I’m not interested in downloading an orgasm. You can stuff your nano-nooky up your sterile sexbot. And, while you’re at it, kindly pull the whole of your industrial capitalist system out at the plug and let us get back to some real living and loving, as Mother Nature intended.

Yours biologically,

A non-robot

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5. Thailand slips into dictatorship

Thailand is slipping further into tyranny, with the military junta that seized power in 2014 strengthening its rule and effectively outlawing all criticism of the state and the corporate interests it represents.

On Tuesday September 20, Bangkok South Criminal Court announced a shock guilty verdict against British migrant rights defender Andy Hall in a criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act charges case brought against him by Natural Fruit Company Ltd.

The Court found Andy Hall guilty of all charges, sentenced him to prison for four years and ordered him to pay 150 000 baht fine. His prison sentence was reduced by one year to three years and suspended for two years because of his record as a human rights defender. Andy will appeal the ruling.

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Andy Hall

The charges related to publication in 2013 of a report called Cheap Has a High Price by Finnwatch, a Finnish civil society organisation. The report outlined allegations of serious human rights violations at Natural Fruit’s pineapple processing plant in Prachuap Khiri Khan province in Thailand.

Said Sonja Vartiala, executive director of Finnwatch: ”We are shocked by today’s verdict. The report was authored and published by Finnwatch; we take full responsibility for it. Andy has been made a scapegoat in order to stifle other voices that speak out legitimately in support of migrant worker rights.

”This is a sad day for freedom of expression in Thailand. We fear that many other human rights defenders and victims of company abuse will be scared to silence by this ruling.”

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At the same time, a new report from Privacy International examines the sinister rise of social media based surveillance in the South East Asian country, carried out potentially by people’s own networks of friends and family.

After the 2014 military coup, in which a military government led by General Prayut Chan-o-cha seized power and overthrew the administration of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the army declared martial law, which was maintained for the following 10 months.

The declaration of martial law allowed the Thai authorities to take strict public order measures, including  reportedly closely monitoring ‘delinquent’ behaviour such as eating sandwiches in the street or reading George Orwell’s books.

A new constitution was passed in August via a very dodgy referendum, of which no monitoring was allowed by the junta. Activists opposing the document were arrested, detained, and prosecuted in military courts, whilst voters who expressed their intention to vote against the draft were also arrested and prosecuted by the military regime.

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Generally, the junta has been cracking down on anyone challenging the Thai establishment – political cases usually revolve around the use of Thailand’s lèse-majesté law (criticising the royal family), the Computer Crimes Act and the sedition law.

Says the Thai Political Prisoners website: “There are no accurate figure on how many have been charged under these draconian laws. 2010 estimates were that there have been more than 300 cases since the 2006 palace-military coup.

“The 2014 coup saw a massive spike in lèse-majesté cases. It is now calculated that the period since the May 2014 military coup has seen more lèse-majesté cases than ever before under any government in Thailand.

“Cases are seldom dropped outright, not least because prosecutors themselves worry about being charged with lèse-majesté for dropping a case”.

Privacy International reports that the NCPO [the Orwellian-named National Council for Peace and Order] is seeking ever-broadening powers. In March 2015 it issued orders giving its officers the power to: search premises, people, and vehicles; summon and arrest people; confiscate property; and request  information without a warrant if they suspect illegal activities.

“The government has various ways of identifying the authors of what it deems to be illegal content on social media; in some cases, the government has arrested opponents in the streets during protests and forced them to hand over their social media passwords. The Thai police has also reportedly created a fake application to phish the data of users trying to log on to Facebook.

According to online newspaper Prachatai, in May 2014, Police Major General Pisit Paoin, the head of a government-appointed working group responsible for censoring the internet, revealed his plan to spy on social media and chat apps. ‘We’ll send you a friend request. If you accept the friend request, we’ll see if anyone disseminates information which violates the NCPO orders. Be careful, we’ll soon be your friend,’ he said.

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The report details instances of police posing as social media “friends” in order to lure activists into traps and jail sentences.

It adds: “Shortly after the coup, Deputy Police Commissioner General Somyot Poompanmoung created a bounty programme to encourage Thai internet users to denounce dissidents. Thai citizens are encouraged to send pictures of anyone who may be ‘displaying opposition to the military coup’. For each picture sent, the denunciator receives 500 Baht (approximately US $14). As mentioned earlier, signs of dissent that have elicited Thai authorities’ interest have reportedly included reading George Orwell’s books and eating sandwiches outside.”

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Can we expect similar controls to be deployed in “the West” in the near future, as the capitalist system is threatened by popular resistance?

As far as denouncing fellow citizens is concerned, we only need to think of the permanent “terrorist” scare and the reports of people being dragged off aircraft for speaking Arabic or generally appearing to be Muslim.

And France already has its own semi-permanent state of emergency – martial law is not just something that happens “elsewhere”.

There may well be a connection between international acceptance of the Thai dictatorship and the fact that Thailand’s U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield is currently the “only facility in Southeast Asia capable of supporting large-scale logistical operations”. Thailand has allowed the US to use U-Tapao to land and refuel after traveling across the Pacific Ocean on the way to US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thailand is designated by the USA as a “major non-NATO ally”, meaning that although it is not technically in NATO, it is very much a close US ally with strategic working relationships with US Armed Forces – and other agencies.

Only this month, the Bangkok Post carried a revelation from a former CIA agent that the Thai king had secretly sent a 4,000-strong force of US-trained Thai soldiers known as Tahan Sua Pran to help the US in  the Vietnam War.

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6. France – the social war kicks off again

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The social war has begun again in France after a summer break – and looks set to intensify in the run-up to the presidential elections due next spring.

September 15 saw protests and strikes all over the country, with police violence immediately resuming the levels seen earlier in the year.

One trade unionist has lost the sight in one eye after being hit by a fragment of a grenade fired indiscriminately into the crowd in Paris by a CRS riot cop.

Although the protest movement was originally about the neoliberal labour reform which has now been pushed through parliament by the ruling so-called “Socialist” Party, it quickly became about much more and that energy is still very much alive.

The erosion of working conditions, the imposition of a US-style neoliberal economy, the militarisation of society, institutional racism, police violence, the draconian state of emergency and the whole misery of life in a capitalist slave-system have all contributed to a heated political climate.

The Lundi matin website has published a handy round-up of the action all across France, from which we have stolen a few highlights.

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In Rennes, there were tense confrontations with police and the usual charges and tear gas. Activists were pleased to note that a significant number of trade unionists “crossed the line” which often divides protesters and went to the aid of radical masked-up comrades.

In Le Havre 12,000 protesters took to the streets, led by the dockers. People set fire to bins and blocked access to a business, Saverglass, in solidarity with trade unionists facing discrimination. Their aim was to “block the economy”.

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In Rouen, protesters smashed the windows of the right-wing Les Républicains party, with the Socialist Party HQ also damaged. Shops and banks were also targeted and tear gas deployed by police.

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In Dijon, the front of the union-organised march was taken over by a radical and youthful block which was in full voice, singing of the memory of the Paris Commune and their hatred of the police.

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In Nantes, a 6,000-strong protest faced unprecedented police repression, with local activists heard remarking: “I’ve never seen anything like this before, you’d think we were in East Germany”.

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There was apparently a great atmosphere in Lille, as well as numerous confrontations with police. “Something new happened”, according to the report, in that there was a joyful and determined unity to the protest and it was impossible to tell the “good” protesters from the naughty troublemakers.

The next few months in France are going to  be very interesting.

* A three-part documentary video about this year’s ongoing uprising can be seen on the Taranis News website.

See also:

Paris rises up

Panicking French state tries to build right-wing militia

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7. The Sultan and the Sage

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One day while he was sitting under an olive tree, contemplating the earth, the sky and the dimensions of the cosmos, there came to the wise Perantulo a man on horseback. His face was obscured by a richly decorated silk scarf and he was accompanied by a dozen mounted warriors, whose scimitars glistened in the sun.

The man was none other than the Sultan of Khaluvia, who had received word of the teaching, the healing and the presence of Perantulo and wanted to see for himself this legendary fakir. The Sultan dismounted and approached the sage, unwinding his scarf so that he could be fully seen. He was plainly of noble character and had the look of one endowed with both intelligence and mental strength, but Perantulo saw at once that there was much that separated him from Knowledge. Having ascertained that this was indeed the sage he had been seeking, and after whom he had been enquiring for many days, the Sultan looked silently into Perantulo’s eyes and Perantulo looked silently and unflinchingly back. This moment stretched out until it became uncomfortable for the Sultan’s warriors, who did not understand what was happening and longed for it to end. But none dared move so much as a muscle or utter so much as the softest of whispered sighs as the two men remained locked in mutual scrutiny.

Finally, the Sultan dropped to his knees and, with tears welling in his eyes, declared: “Never before, Perantulo, have I seen in the eyes of man or woman what I have just discovered in yours. I must confess that I have wondered these last days whether the rumours of your wisdom were not exaggerated by the loose tongues of gossiping embellishers, but now I know that their inaccuracy strayed in the opposite direction to that which I had feared to be the case. Your reputation does not do you justice, Perantulo, and I say this without having heard you utter one word or move one finger. I beseech you, O Holy Man, to show me how I can see what you see, know what you know, shine as you shine”.

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There was a long pause. Perantulo remained so still that a small green lizard walked up one arm, across the back of his neck, and down the other.

And then he told the Sultan: “It is a fine thing, O Great Ruler, that you have come here and spoken thus. Your people are fortunate indeed to be led by a man of your sensibility. But it is no easy thing you seek. The path is long and steep and you would do well to bear in mind the fable of the traveller who feasts on his supplies in celebration at having reached the lofty summit of his destination only to realise, when the mists lift, that he has merely conquered the lowest of the foothills that come before the plain that leads to the sea across which lies the mountain he would ascend”.

“I know the path is long, kind sage. Fear not – the mist of impatience will not blind me on my journey,” spoke the Sultan.

Perantulo waited for another long moment – moments for him bore little relation to the moments of ordinary men. He was so still that a golden butterfly alighted on his upper lip and preened itself for a while before fluttering on its way.

“Very well,” said the old philosopher to the Sultan. “But you should know that the task ahead of you involves three stages. The first, which is quick and easy, is to express the Desire for True Knowledge. The second, which will be painful to you and to those who love you, is to rid yourself of all obstacles that can prevent the Torch of Eternal Truth from shining through you. This stage is dangerous for one whose commitment is not complete, for one who is not strong enough to bear the hatred of others or for one who is not supple enough inside to absorb the hurt. It is a dark voyage from which you may never emerge, O Sultan-most-Splendid”.

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The Sultan, a pensive frown creasing his brow, drew a deep breath: “And the third stage, O Holy Perantulo?”

“The third stage,” replied the fakir, “can only be imagined when the first two stages have been completed”.

The Sultan nodded. “So be it,” he said. “I have understood”.

And then he sprang to his feet, turned to his bemused men, and roared: “Let you all stand witness, my warriors, that your master, the Sultan of Khaluvia, today expresses his unquenchable commitment to the Desire for True Knowledge, that from this moment forth his days among mankind will be devoted to no other cause and that nothing and nobody can stand in the way of his Quest. Now we will ride, ride, ride – back to our famous City of Alzorika, which will soon become famed not just for its wealth, its learning and its arts, but for the devotion of its 75th Sultan to the Glory of All Being!”

He leapt on to his horse, raised his sword in the air as a sign of his energy and determination, then span to face the sage, who was still seated under the tree.

“Perantulo!” he cried, the fire of zeal scorching from his eyes. “Perantulo! I have heard your words and I will hold them in my heart! I will return!”

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[The above is the opening of The Sultan and the Sage, the first chapter of The Fakir of Florence: A novel in three layers, by Paul Cudenec. The full chapter is available on Paul’s blog. The book is published by Winter Oak and available to buy here and from Active Distribution. The author features in a new podcast on anarchy on the Natural Born Alchemist website]

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8. Acorninfo

Environmental activists blocked flights at London City Airport on September 6 in a Black Lives Matter protest highlighting the disproportionate impact of air pollution on black communities living near airports. Nine people launched a dawn action at the small airport used by rich businesspeople and managed to put up a tripod on the runway and lock themselves together.

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More than 24,000 inmates in at least 40 prisons from over two dozen states in the USA have been taking part in the national prison strike which began on September 9. Despite a virtual media blackout, it is clear that this is the biggest prison strike in US history, with inmates refusing to follow orders, failing to report for work and causing prisons to go on lockdown. The main focus of the strike is the modern-day slavery still legal in the prison system, in which businesses profit from free or very cheap forced labour. Said Azzura Crispino of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee: “Prisoners getting paid a wage at all for their labor is rare. The system is doing exactly what it’s designed to do: Extract as much money off the backs of prisoners as possible.” There are calls for international solidarity actions.

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* * *

In the face of ongoing violence in the Philippines – with a bombing in Davao City killing 14 people and the “war on drugs” seeing almost 2,000 people summarily executed – local anarchists are keeping up the struggle. On September 4, Food Not Bombs Baliuag protested against all the violence and war by providing free meal to people affected by poverty and hunger in the park of Baliuag, Bulacan. They have also staged a free market, sharing and giving away used clothes to those most in need.

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* * *

We have one year to close DSEI – that’s the message from anti-militarist campaigners 12 months ahead of the next arms fair in London’s Docklands. The big event, at which besuited individuals aim to make huge profits out of other people’s deaths, is due to be held from September 12 to 15 2017 at Excel London. Unless…

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* * *

The anarchist view of evolution, as being primarily about mutual aid and co-operation rather than competition and individualism, has been confirmed by recent research. Dr Benjamin Rubin, of Princeton University, said: “We originally set out to uncover the genetic basis of mutualistic behaviour in ants. So, we sequenced the genomes of three mutualistic species of plant-ants and four of their closely related, non-mutualistic relatives. We were surprised to learn that the mutualists actually had a higher rate of evolution across their genomes than the generalists.” Peter Kropotkin, anarchist scientist and author of the classic Mutual Aid, would not have been surprised, we imagine…

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* * *

Anarchy in a Cold War is a novel by Kurtis Sunday set in the West Berlin alternative-squatter-Punk scene during the latter part of the Cold War. The city, a focal point in the conflict between East and West, was a capitalist enclave smack in the middle of Communist East Germany. It was entirely surrounded by the Berlin Wall, complete with razor wire and machine gun posts. There is much that is familiar and much that is not. The Cold War is raging and the missiles are armed and waiting in their silos. If nuclear war breaks out there will be a four-minute warning. There is no internet and perhaps NO FUTURE. Reality? Sur-reality? Or hyper-reality?

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* * *

Acorn quote: “The life of the psyche is the life of mankind. Welling up from the depths of the unconscious, its springs gush forth from the root of the whole human race, since the individual is, biologically speaking, only a twig broken off from the mother and transplanted”. C.G. Jung, Symbols of Transformation

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

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