The Acorn – 13

acornmastheadnew

Number 13


In this issue:

  1. Tarnac – a victory against the system
  2. Terrorists head for London Docklands
  3. Camp to inspire resistance to capitalism
  4. Fracking resistance is putting the Earth First!
  5. Tourism targeted by anti-capitalists in France
  6. Video: camp resists logging industry
  7. Acorninfo

1. Tarnac – a victory against the system

tarnac demo

A significant legal victory against the capitalist system, and its use of “anti-terrorism” laws to crush dissent (see Acorn 12), has been notched up in France.

After seven years of trying to prosecute the “Tarnac” defendants for so-called “terrorism”, the French state has finally failed.

The eight defendants, accused of sabotaging high-speed TGV railway lines in 2008, will still go to court, but facing lesser “conspiracy” charges instead.

In an order made on Friday August 7, described as “a major blow to the police”, judge Jeanne Duyé rejected the government’s attempt to have three of the activists tried for “terrorism”.

Defence lawyers told the press: “Right from the start, our clients have been regarded and treated as terrorists. Finally it’s been realised that this just doesn’t hold up”.

Mathieu Burnel, one of the defendants, said: “Our arrests were purely political and based on false statements from the police. The whole thing is going to fall apart once it goes to trial”.

cominginsurrection

The case against the anti-capitalists from the village of Tarnac has been closely linked to their alleged co-authorship of The Coming Insurrection by The Invisible Committee, which came out in 2007, the year before their arrests.

Julien Coupat, supposedly one of the main authors, has said it is “laughable” that the “terrorism” case against him should be based on a book that can be bought in high street bookchains in France, such as Fnac.

The Invisible Committee last year published a follow-up book, A nos amis, which has now been published in English translation as To Our Friends.

See also:

Anti-terrorism is not what it says it is

Tarnac: state persecution starts again

“Insurrection has been waiting to break out”

French resistance to concrete future

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2. Terrorists head for London Docklands

Murder weapons for sale at DSEI

Hundreds of terrorists are heading for London’s Docklands in September, getting together to boast about the latest ways they have devised to kill and maim men, women and children.

These are not, of course, the kind of “terrorists” we have taught to identify as such – these are corporate terrorists, terrorists-in-suits, capitalist terrorists hoping to make a metaphorical “killing” out of the real one, as they get rich over the scorched flesh of human beings across the world.

The occasion is one of the world’s biggest arms fairs – the 2015 DSEI (Defence & Security Equipment International) , which will be staged from September 15 to18 at the Excel Centre in Newham, London.

Held every two years, DSEI is jointly organised by Clarion Events and the UK Government, which has a proud history of sponsoring global slaughter.

More than 1,500 exhibitors will attend from around the world, including most of the world’s largest arms companies, displaying arms ranging from rifles to tanks, fighter jets, battleships, missiles, military electronics, surveillance and riot control equipment.

dsei_class-leaflet1

The Anarchist Action Network (which has just staged a successful week of anarchist workshops nearby in East London) has a section on its website devoted to DSEI.

One part sets out why the AAN believes that direct action is needed against arms fairs such as DSEI.

It says: “From the UK’s illegal wars for oil, to the way arms companies are allowed to operate here with impunity, there is no accountability.

“The British police act as free private security for the arms trade – they abuse protesters and turn a blind eye to the continual breaches of laws banning the promotion of torture weapons, or those that indiscriminately maim and kill civilians.

“Various ‘illegal’ arms such as electro-shock weapons, weighted fetters and gang chains, cluster-munitions and anti-personnel landmines have been documented by Amnesty as having been promoted for sale at every DSEi arms fair since 2005 – yet the state has not once intervened.

“And some of the most destructive weapons for sale at the event – such as the drones frequently used to incinerate whole families by remote control at the touch of a button in places like Pakistan or Palestine – are not illegal to sell at all. In such circumstances we see no way forward but direct action.

“The police aren’t there to protect us but rather they exist to protect the interests of the privileged and powerful.

“Those people who seek to take genuinely effective action against the state or the corporations quickly learn this lesson the hard way, if they didn’t know it already.

“As an important matter of principle our group will never liaise or negotiate with the police”.

The Stop the Arms Fair website includes details of a week of action just before the event. More info is also promised on the AAN site in future weeks.

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3. Camp to inspire resistance to capitalism

rtf poster

“Build gardens, not prisons!” is the theme of an international Reclaim the Fields Action Camp being held in Shropshire, England, from Friday August 28 to Wednesday September 2.

Actions are being planned against a new superprison being built just across the border in North Wales and against the threat of fracking in the region.

There is also the chance to take part in installing gardens and low-impact infrastructure at the Dudlestone community protection camp and to learn about permaculture, agroecology, forest gardening, mushroom growing, pallet construction, compost toilet making, off-grid electrics and more.

The camp reflects a growing realisation that the struggle against capitalism is also a struggle against all the industrial infrastructure producing the “growth” and profit on which it depends.

Among the event’s stated aims are to demonstrate the interconnection between anti-capitalist and environmental struggles and “to inspire and radicalise everyone involved” – forging an authentic and deep-rooted anti-capitalist resistance.

North-Wales-Prison
The proposed prison near Wrexham

The North Wales Prison Project, which is one of the targets for the action days on September 1 and 2, will be Europe’s second largest prison.

It is due to hold 2,100 prisoners and is the first of a number of ‘mega-prisons’ planned by the UK state as part of a prison-industrial complex that enslaves the population for the profit of the usual business interests.

Reclaim the Fields UK was born in 2011, as a star in a wider constellation of food and land struggles that reaches around the globe.

Since 2011, camps and other RTF gatherings have helped support local communities in struggle, share skills, developed networks, and strengthened the resistance to exploitation, in Bristol, west London, Gloucestershire, Nottingham and Fife among other locations.

Every two years there is also an international camp, where people from around Europe and beyond meet together to support a local struggle (from gold mining in Romania to open cast coal mining in Germany, for example). People share stories and ideas about resistance and reclaiming our food system beyond national borders.

More info at: http://www.reclaimthefields.org.uk

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4. Fracking resistance is putting the Earth First!

EF!SG15poster-small

As the government pushes ahead with imposing fracking on the UK, despite growing opposition, direct action is likely to feature more and more in terms of resistance.

And it is no coincidence that fracking struggles are one of the main themes of the Earth First! Summer Gathering being held in England’s Peak District from August 19 to 24.

As we reported in Acorn 7, the event offers five days of skill-sharing for grassroots ecological direct action, with the chance to make links, share ideas, and get involved in the struggles against fracking, new roads and other threats to the planet.

As with the Reclaim the Fields event, and the degrowth day at East London Rising, there are encouraging signs here of a resurgence in the anti-industrial movement that was so strong in the UK a few years ago.

As Earth First! confirm: “This year’s gathering is set to be the largest since the 1990s with over 170 workshops confirmed so far”.

The exact location is now available: Bradley Nook Farm, Hulland Ward, Ashbourne, Derbyshire DE6 3EL.

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5. Tourism targeted by anti-capitalists in France

roybon
Protesting against the Center Parcs plan for Roybon

Tourism is very much part of the global capitalist infrastructure and should be confronted by anti-capitalists.

That’s the view expressed by supporters of the Roybon ZAD, or protest camp, in south-eastern France, which is trying to prevent a Center Parcs holiday village being built in the countryside.

De Tout Bois is a magazine produced in support of the ZAD, which was set up at the start of 2015 as the culmination of an eight-year fight against the Center Parcs scheme near Grenoble.

In an interview in issue 3, summer 2015, anti-tourism writer and campaigner Rodolphe Christin explains how the issue fits in to the bigger picture.

Center Parcs2
Center Parcs, where “nature” is for sale

He says: “What we have to understand is that tourism is simply a product of capitalism. Tourism is a practice closely tied in to a consumer-based lifestyle. As a result, there is no such thing as a ‘good’ kind of tourism for anyone who opposes global capitalism, a system which can only see the world as a source of productivity and thus profit.

“It’s a whole way of living we have to analyse and challenge, and not only the specific form that a tourism project might assume in a particular location. Of course, the infrastructure involved in a leisure park is very visible and it impact will bring about spectacular and brutal changes to an area.

“But an area criss-crossed with a network of holiday cottages, B&Bs, car parks, roads, and tourist trails is also a form of commercialisation of the world, even if it’s more gradual and therefore apparently more acceptable.”

The magazine is published by Le monde à l’envers

For latest info on the struggle go to https://zadroybon.wordpress.com

or http://grenoble.indymedia.org

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6. Video: camp resists logging industry

anti-logging
An indigenous activist talks about the camp on the video

A short video about indigenous resistance to logging in Canada can be seen on a new website.

The documentary about the land struggle in British Columbia has been posted on itsgoingdown.org

Four months ago Christine Jack, a St’át’imc hunter and fisher, and Ken Thomas, a St’át’imc Elder, set up camp near Lillooet. This is the unceded territory of the St’át’imc (Xwisten First Nations) at Junction Creek in the Yalakom Valley.

The area was used for thousands of years as a village site and trading ground where Secwepemc, Tsilhqot’in and St’át’imc people came to trade, hunt, gather and process foods and medicines.

Jack and Thomas reoccupied the land after logging company Aspen Planers was found to have been cutting trees on the site of an ancient village. It laid thin sheeting and gravel over what is believed to be an indentation of an ancient pit-house.

Notes the website: “At this time establishing camps on traditional territories may be one of the most effective ways to assert indigenous sovereignty and protect against the constant encroachment of government and corporations”.

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7. Acorninfo

Exactly four years after the English riots of 2011, a French magazine brought out to celebrate the uprising has been posted online as a pdfNow war is declared (taken from the lyrics of London Calling by The Clash ) was widely distributed as a print-only publication in 2011. It states in the introduction: “Austerity measures in the UK are exactly what they seem to be – a trite confirmation of the vision of the world held by those who are imposing them. When they run out of money, they try and take it from the people who haven’t got any. Inequality keeps a hierarchical society in working order. When poverty is on the rise, you nearly always see the rich and powerful crying out for more security – because sometimes along with poverty comes anger…” Of course, things are so different now that there could never be another major outbreak of rioting in the UK, could there?

riots of 2011
England in August 2011

* * *

While migrants in Calais have been in the British headlines, there are other camps around Europe that are little heard of in the UK. One, for instance, is at Ventimiglia in Italy, next to the French border. Here, African migrants prevented from crossing into France ended up camped on the rocks by the sea in what one blogger called “the very worst sanitary and human conditions”. Then some young Italian anarchists from No Borders stepped in to set up a proper camp, with open-air kitchen, shower and toilet. Solidarity in action! More info here.

noborders_20miglia
The camp in Italy, near the French border – “we are not going back!”

* * *

Another great technological break-through for humankind. It seems the latest “connected car” software allows hackers (or authorised persons?) to take remote control of a vehicle’s onboard computer, remotely controlling the throttle, brakes and even (in some cases) its steering, as well as the vehicle’s windshield wipers, navigation, and entertainment systems.

This car ended up in a ditch after its brakes were remotely disabled
This car ended up in a ditch after its brakes were remotely disabled

* * *

There is a call-out for court solidarity with the Plane Stupid activists who locked on at London Heathrow Airport last month (see Acorn 12). It reads: “For defending the planet and human health, the activists have been charged with aggravated trespass and being in a restricted area of the airport without permission. If you want to show them your solidarity, please attend their first court hearing on Wednesday 19 August 2015 at 9.30am, at Uxbridge Magistrates Court (nearest tube: Uxbridge, on the Metropolitan and Piccadilly lines). The full address for the court is: The Court House, Harefield Road, Uxbridge UB8 1PQ”.

plane stupid lhr
The Heathrow protest in July

* * *

Acorn quote: “Why should I give a fuck about what anything costs? I’m here to live, not to calculate. And that’s just what the bastards don’t want you to do – to live! They want you to spend your whole life adding up figures. That makes sense to them. That’s reasonable. That’s intelligent. If I were running the boat, things wouldn’t be so orderly perhaps, but it would be gayer, by Jesus! You wouldn’t have to shit in your pants over trifles. Maybe there wouldn’t be macadamized roads and streamlined cars and loudspeakers and gadgets of a million billion varieties, maybe there wouldn’t even be glass in the windows, maybe you’d have to sleep on the ground, maybe there wouldn’t be French cooking and Italian cooking and Chinese cooking, maybe people would kill each other when their patience was exhausted and maybe nobody would stop them because there wouldn’t be any jails or any cops or judges, and there certainly wouldn’t be any cabinet ministers or legislatures because there wouldn’t be any goddamned laws to obey or disobey, and maybe it would take months and years to trek from place to place; but you wouldn’t need a visa or a passport or a carte d’identité because you wouldn’t be registered anywhere and you wouldn’t bear a number and if you wanted to change your name every week you could do it because it wouldn’t make any difference since you wouldn’t own anything except what you could carry around with you and why would you want to own anything when everything would be free?”

Henry Miller, Tropic of Capricorn

henrymiller4

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

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Follow Winter Oak on Twitter at @WinterOakPress

 

 

The Acorn – 4

acornmastheadnew

Number 4


In this issue:

  1. Profit before the planet: a special investigation into sham “sustainability”
  2. Europeans unite against ruling elite
  3. Learning from the Syriza sell-out
  4. Fracking – resistance and repression
  5. Motor threat to Welsh valleys
  6. Acorninfo

1. Profit before the planet: a special investigation into sham “sustainability”

coastcapitalism

“Sustainable transport” funding in southern England is just another way of boosting business profits, an investigation by The Acorn can reveal.

The funding agency in question has stated that schemes do not have to be sustainable or even have to have anything to do with transport at all – they just have to contribute to “economic growth”.

Meanwhile, unchecked traffic congestion is used to justify yet more environment-wrecking road schemes, as we revealed in Acorn 1.

And the whole public-private apparatus behind the scandal is riddled with connections not just to global big business but even to the military and the arms trade.

Our investigation involves West Sussex County Council (WSCC) and Coast to Capital, the regional Local Enterprise Partnership covering a swathe of southern England stretching from Croydon and Gatwick Airport to Brighton and Chichester.

Print

WSCC is trying to get hold of some of the £31 million allocated by the Government to Coast to Capital, supposedly to fund sustainable transport schemes, and is promoting something it calls the “Worthing Sustainable Transport Package”. Phase one of this is costed at £1.2 million and WSCC is bidding for £800,000 of that from Coast to Capital.

But when local cycling and environmental campaigners took a closer look at the details of the scheme, they were astonished to discover that it was all about repaving the main Worthing shopping street, Montague Street, and knocking down a rotunda, known to residents as the bandstand.

One campaigner told The Acorn: “There is no way anyone can say that re-paving Montague Street in Worthing has anything to do with benefiting sustainable transport, when, in fact, the town is desperate for some cycleways and other sustainable transport to ease chronic motor traffic congestion.

“Councils are spending ‘sustainable transport’ money on ‘sustainable transport’ schemes that are nothing of the sort.”

Shoppers in Montague Street, Worthing
Shoppers in Montague Street, Worthing

It is indeed immediately striking how little the “Worthing Sustainable Transport Package” has to do with sustainable transport – it is blatantly just a make-over for the commercial part of Worthing town centre.

The “why it should be funded” section of the application admits that the main thrust of its pitch is that “it will attract more people to shop in the area”. This will result in “long term economic growth reversing the current decline in footfall and turnover”. It will “create jobs”, help Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership meet its economic growth targets and potentially lead to £17.7 million a year more income for businesses.

Other “benefits” of the scheme are that the works will put £2.3 million into the pockets of the construction industry and eventually push up shop rental values and thus business rates.

There is also the bonus of extra “generation of government revenues” from “taxes on business profits, employees’ wages, and profits from rental income”.

And the cherry on the cake is that “residential properties are likely to increase in value by 5.2% within the town centre”. What marvellous news for Sussex people finding it difficult to afford somewhere to live!

Amidst all of this there is no indication of how the scheme might be expected to reduce traffic or make transport “sustainable” in any way, reducing demand for new roads like the threatened Arundel bypass-bypass or the mooted Worthing A27 “improvements”.

As the local campaigner told us: “The bid document itself does not mention any beneficial impacts on journey times or reliability, and it is difficult to envisage any.” Referring to the suggested increase of 1.6 million new visits to Montague Street each year, he asked: “How are those additional people expected to travel to and from Montague Street without causing a significant increase in local traffic?”

Coast to Capitalism

But hold on a minute – a bid for sustainable transport funding that makes no mention of sustainable transport? Is that even allowed?

The local campaigners stumbled across what looks like a blatant give-away when they were examining the Coast to Capital website for details of its criteria.

Astonishingly, the section about schemes that could be funded under transport “sustainability” or “resilience” admitted: “They may also include improvements which do not affect transport, but which will help to protect or stimulate economic growth”.

No sooner had this remarkable sentence been drawn to the attention of Coast to Capital, than it suddenly disappeared from the website! Luckily, campaigners were shrewd enough to have taken a screenshot, part of which is reproduced here.

Missing sentence

In fact, it should come as no surprise that “economic growth” should prove to be the sole preoccupation of Coast to Capital.

The masthead of its website proclaims that its focus is “to create economic growth in an innovative, enterprising and international business environment” and the term repeats ad nauseam in the overview of its aims.

coast to capital mast

“Our small yet dynamic team is focused on delivering growth”… “Our focus is on those areas where we can stimulate growth” … “delivering activities to drive growth” … “our role is to help re-balance the economy and to promote private sector growth” … “ensuring that the infrastructure and conditions for economic growth are in place”.

It adds: “Coast to Capital is not a delivery organisation and we do not take on the direct delivery of business support services. However, in order to create favourable conditions for growth, we do identify priorities and strategies for improving local transport, housing and skills development.”

This line pretty much confirms the gist of the deleted give-away sentence – all Coast to Capital’s strategies on transport, housing or whatever are, by its own admission, only carried out “in order to create favourable conditions for growth”.

If we go back through its self-description and replace the word “growth” with a term that describes what it really means – “profit” or “greed” come to mind – then we begin to understand the agenda that lies behind Coast to Capital.

Decision, decisions… interests and allegiances

If all this isn’t disturbing enough, let’s now take a look at how the decision will be made about the allocation of so-called “sustainable transport” funding…

Coast to Capital reveals that the “the business cases for each scheme are currently being assessed by independent transport advisors. Parsons Brinckerhoff are assessing the sustainability schemes.”

Parsons Brinckerhoff is a massive multinational engineering corporation, employing some 14,000 staff – in 2013, the company was named the tenth largest US-based engineering/design firm by Engineering News Record. It used to be owned by Balfour Beatty, but on October 31, 2014, it became a wholly owned independent subsidiary of WSP Global, an even more massive multinational corporation based in Canada.

wsp parsons

WSP Global Inc is currently involved in projects like the rebuilding of the World Trade Center in New York, USA, and Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport in Germany. Past triumphs from these experts in sustainability include The Shard in London, Beetham Tower in Manchester, City Central Development in Adelaide, Australia, Mellon Bank Center in Philadelphia, Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, and Trump Tower in New York.

shard
The Shard in London: a WSP Global Inc project

 

Terminal_de_l'aéroport_international_de_Bangkok
Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok: another WSP Global Inc project

The deliberation of these “independent” transport advisors will no doubt be watched with dispassionate interest by Martin Heffer, the Coast to Capital board member focusing on infrastructure issues.

Well, not that dispassionate, as his register of interests reveals that Parsons Brinckerhoff (now aka WSP Global Inc) is in fact his employer!

Heffer, a “specialist in the planning and delivery of major transport schemes”, is apparently “currently on secondment to the Department for Transport”.

His commitment to sustainable transport involves working on the High Speed 2 rail project, Heathrow Terminal 5 and the widening of the M25 motorway ahead of the Olympics.

And Heffer’s fine ethical record does not stop there! He is also a reserve army officer, having been a Royal Engineers volunteer officer for some 30 years. “He is a specialist in the area of Civil Military co-operation having worked on joint Foreign Office and UK military infrastructure initiatives in Iraq,” boasts Coast to Capital.

Martin Heffer: developing capitalist infrastructure from Iraq to the M25
Martin Heffer: developing capitalist infrastructure from Iraq to the M25

What a splendid example of the seamless interweaving of state, capitalism and war-mongering neo-colonialism!

If this is all beginning to sound like a bit of a stitch-up, don’t worry – when the decisions about funding are made, probably on March 25 2015, they will not be made by Heffer or the board, but by what Coast to Capital calls a “voluntary partnership known as
the Local Transport Body”.

Closer examination reveals that this wholesome-sounding group is chaired by none other than Pieter Montyn. Montyn shares Heffer’s commitment to ethics and sustainability, with a lifetime spent in the higher echelons of the global arms trade – “37 years in the UK aircraft and defence equipment industry (British Aerospace/BAE Systems and GEC), in which he held senior export management positions at home and overseas”.

Montyncoll
Pieter Montyn: from BAE to West Sussex County Council

He will presumably have to step aside from his role chairing the Local Transport Body when the funding bid for Worthing is actually discussed, as he also happens to be cabinet member for highways and transport at West Sussex County Council, the very organisation promoting the application!

As the leading force behind the “A27 Action” campaign calling for the bypass of the Arundel bypass and other road-building schemes (see Acorn 1), WSCC appears to be concerned by the increase in motor traffic – its pro-road-building website declares: “The A27 is a congested route which is inhibiting business investment and growth.”

Funny, then, that that very same West Sussex County Council is promoting the “Worthing Sustainable Transport Package”, rather than a scheme that would help address the congestion issue by providing cycle lanes, cheaper public transport etc?

Not really! After all, think of all the plus-boxes that are ticked by the prospect of new motorways being ploughed through the woods and wetlands of Sussex! More and more traffic, more concrete, more contracts for the construction industry – the warped greed-god of economic growth, worshipped by Coast to Capital, West Sussex County Council and all their business partners, will demand the unchecked expansion of its capitalist infrastructure right up until the very day it has triumphantly choked the last drop of life out of this planet.

See also:

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2. Europeans unite against ruling elite

venezia
Anti-capitalist protesters in Italy get in the mood for March 18 in Frankfurt

Anti-capitalist protesters from across Europe are gearing up for big protests against the European Central Bank (ECB).

As we reported in Acorn 2, they are converging on Frankfurt in Germany on Wednesday March 18 to gatecrash the opening party of the new HQ.

“See you on the barricades!” was the message from the activists pictured above in Venice, Italy, who were part of a day of anti-bank actions on March 2.

And a similar message of defiance comes across on this video call-out from destroika. Says the group’s website: “It is necessary to transpose our experiences of local struggle to a higher offensive level, beyond the national frame of reference inherent to the movement, in order to sandwich the State on the European level as well. The opening of the new headquarters of the European Central Bank will be the occasion for us to reconverge, to unite our forces against a common enemy.”

The Blockupy call-out says: “As the crisis has unfolded the EU has became more and more of an authoritarian regime with an obvious lack of democratic participation. The murderous border controls and the progressing militarization of foreign policy add to this process. They cannot, and even do not want to, represent us anymore. The ruling elites have nothing left of value to offer for us.

“But new forces are emerging from all corners of life and it will be our task to build solidarity and real democracy from below. They want capitalism without democracy, but we want democracy without capitalism!”

German authorities are showing signs of panic over the impact of the protests, with one regional minister, Peter Beuth, describing them as a huge challenge” for the security forces. Everyone had the right to “peacefully” protest against globalization, butrioters” were not welcome in Frankfurt on March 18 the minister told the Hesse Landtag (regional Parliament).

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3. Learning from the Syriza sell-out

syriza
Syriza – selling out to neoliberal capitalism

As soon as the leftists of Syriza came into power in Greece, anarchist voices were warning that things were not necessarily as they seemed.

Crimethinc, for example, published a thoughtful in-depth analysis called Syriza Can’t Save Greece: Why There’s No Electoral Exit from the Crisis.

Here it bracketed Syriza with other “radical” electoral forces such as Podemos in Spain, Die Linke in Germany, Parti de Gauche in France, Radnička fronta in Croatia, Združena levica in Slovenia, and Bloco de Esquerda in Portugal.

Warned the article: “At this historical juncture, all of them serve the same basic function. Faced with so much unrest, the ruling order suddenly has a use for new radical political parties that promise to embody calls for ‘real democracy’ within the existing system.

“Whatever the intentions of the participants, their structural role is to rebuild trust in electoral democracy, neutralize uncontrollable extra-parliamentary movements, and reestablish capitalism and the state as the only imaginable social order.

“When they enter the halls of power, they commit themselves to perpetuating the authoritarian institutions and unequal distribution of wealth that triggered the movements from which they appeared in the first place.”

DieLinke
Electoral movements like Die Linke are useful for the capitalist system, warns Crimethinc

It was not long before Crimethinc’s warning was proved correct. In an article posted on the Aljazeera website on March 3, C J Polychroniou, a research associate and policy fellow at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, wrote: “It has taken the Syriza government less than a month to surrender to neoliberal Europe and Greece’s international lenders.”

Noting that in recent talks “the Syriza-led government accepted an extension of the bailout programme and capitulated in turn to Germany’s demands for austerity and neoliberal reforms”, he added: “One would be hard pressed to find in the annals of political history another case where a governing party has broken its word so quickly on its pre-election promises and accepted an ultimate defeat in the face of systemic opposition.“

Polychroniou fears that “Syriza’s capitulation will create a mood of defeatism among progressive forces across Europe”.

But, on the other hand, it might serve to underline the anarchist warning that attempts to reform the capitalist system will only end up reinforcing it – the whole thing has to go.

"Still our last, best hope" says Crimethinc.
“Still our last, best hope” says Crimethinc.

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4. Fracking – resistance and repression

Algerian anti-fracking2
Resisting the fracking industry in In-Salah, Algeria

Resistance to fracking continues to grow all over the world. On Sunday March 1 anti-fracking protesters in In-Salah, Algeria, torched the local daïra (government office) and the home of its boss, as well as part of a police dormitory and a police lorry. Forty cops were apparently injured.

Protests have been growing since the end of December when the Algerian firm Sonatrach, in partnership with Halliburton, announced its first test for shale gas in this part of the Sahara had been a success. In February it insisted that fracking would go ahead despite evident hostility from a local population daring to stand in the way of economic growth. Algeria has the world’s fourth biggest reserves of shale gas, after the USA, China and Argentina.

Anti-fracking protesters in In-Salah, Algeria
Anti-fracking protesters in In-Salah, Algeria

In Britain, the authorities continue to explore ways of stemming the anti-fracking revolt. One is to have subtly redefined fracking in the notorious new Infrastructure Act.

Explains DeSmogBlog: “By defining fracking as one specific phase in the entire process, it means that any environmental impacts that do occur must be proven to be associated with that specific phase in order to claim that the industry definition of fracking has caused that impact.”

So when the industry claims that “no proven instances of water contamination have occurred due to hydraulic fracturing” it is using the its own definition of hydraulic fracturing, now shared by the state, “which excludes incidents from drilling damage, failed well casings, spills, erosion and sediment, or tanker accidents”.

The other approach, of course, is to use the legal system to attack opponents of the fracking industry.

On Thursday March 5 Dr Rowland Dye was convicted of “aggravated trespass” in the office of the Chamber of Commerce in Blackpool, also home to fracking firm Cuadrilla, during Reclaim the Power protests last August. The district judge not only fined him £250 and ordered him to £500 costs and £25 victims’ surcharge, but also ordered him to pay £551.83 compensation to the Chamber, on the flimsy basis that it “had cancel an event the day after the protest” – when the protesters had long since left. More than £1,300 for an office occupation in which nothing was damaged (let alone set on fire, Algerian-style!).

The protest in Blackpool in August 2014
The protest in Blackpool in August 2014

Babs Murphy, chief executive of the North and Western Lancashire Chamber Of Commerce, revealed the political motives behind the prosecution and punishment by telling media: “This decision sends out a clear message that if protestors break the law they will be punished. It sets the precedence for our local business community who can now be assured that fracking occupancy is illegal and not welcome in Lancashire”.

And on the same day anti-fracking campaigner and journalist Paul Mobbs was arrested at the entrance to Downing Street in London. He was trying to make a citizen’s arrest of members of the government because he believes they are guilty of misconduct in public office in the way they have dealt with fracking. At about 3pm, Mr Mobbs was asked to leave the Downing Street area. When he refused and said he would try to climb over the gate he was arrested for breaching a traffic management order under the laughably-named Terrorism Act.

Mr Mobbs has updated his frackogram showing links involving the fracking industry. Meanwhile, Drill or Drop has produced an invaluable and comprehensive update on drilling, permissions, companies and consultations across the UK, including of course the Celtique site near Billingshurst, West Sussex, featured in Acorn 2.

Bill-fence3
The fracking site near Billingshurst, West Sussex, featured in Issue 2 of The Acorn

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5. Motor threat to Welsh valleys

Circuit of Wales
The proposed new “infrastructure” for the Welsh countryside

A public enquiry opens on Tuesday March 10 into a hideous assault on common land in the Welsh countryside in the name of “infrastructure”.

The Open Spaces Society explain that two years ago they objected to plans for the Circuit of Wales motor-sports development just north of Ebbw Vale in south Wales. “At that time the developer, the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, stated optimistically and inaccurately on its website that ‘planning permission is the final hurdle’.

“Although the development now has planning permission it has not yet gone ahead—because it would take common land.  There are many who claim that the objectors are holding up a development which will bring jobs and prosperity to the area.  Their ire should be directed at the developers who opted to site the motor circuit on a common.

“For the applicant has had to find land to offer in exchange for the 245 hectares (nearly one square mile) of open moorland which would be submerged under concrete, and to make an application to Welsh ministers for the exchange, under section 16 of the Commons Act 2006.”

The development website boasts: “Circuit of Wales will transform 830 acres of Blaenau Gwent in the scenic Welsh valleys on an unparalleled scale, and will shine the global spotlight on the region. The innovative scheme will wholly regenerate the area, providing unrivalled opportunities in job creation, tourism, and research and development.”

It says the scheme is “the most significant capital investment programme in automotive infrastructure in the UK in the last 50 years”.

Here we have all the assumptions of the capitalist “growth” mindset. It beggars belief that the “transformation” of countryside into a motor racing track can be seen in a positive light! Does the region want the “global spotlight” shone on it? What does it mean to “wholly regenerate” an area? Is “job creation” always a good thing, even if the jobs perform no useful function, and indeed a harmful one?

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6. Acorninfo

Thursday March 12 has been named by land activists as the date of the final eviction efforts at Yorkley Court in the Forest of Dean. As we reported in Acorn 3, for the last two and a half years residents have been trying to establish a sustainable community farm. But on February 26 a local millionaire property developer Brian Bennett won his court case for possession. A call-out has now been made for supporters to come and show their solidarity on the day.

Yorkley-New

* * *

Following the report in Acorn 3, the fascists of the EDL have apparently changed their minds about trying to march through Brighton on April 18. Local rag The Argus says the far-right hate-mongers are now planning to head for Oxford on April 4 instead. Observes the anti-fascist EDL News: “The group have stated the demo in Brighton has been postponed but we suspect it will not get rearranged due to the fact that many of their members have stated that the idea was pretty stupid in the first place.”

brightonantifascists

* * *

A new book of eco-poetry has been published by Permanent Publications. Ecozoa by Helen Moore calls for a new era “in great contrast to the ravages caused by the growth and impacts of industrial civilisation on our planetary ecosystems”. Moore’s work is strongly inspired by William Blake and, reviewing the latest collection, Paul Cudenec comments: “By placing herself in a direct line of ideological descent from Blake, Moore is doing more than expressing admiration for him. She is proclaiming herself as a contemporary manifestation of that same underground heretical tradition”. The full review can be read here.

ecozoa

* * *

An annual celebration of Spring and “the renewal of life on the Downs” is once again been staged by Sussex environmental and land access group the  Worthing Downlanders. They are inviting local musicians, singers, poets and merry-makers to join them on Sunday March 22 2015 from 2pm at The Castle Tavern, 1 Newland Road, Worthing, West Sussex BN11 1JR. “Everyone is welcome to participate, or you can just turn up and watch the festivities with a glass in hand!” Entry is free. Contact: info@worthingdownlanders.org.uk

Castle Tavern Worthing
Castle Tavern, Worthing

 

 

 

 

 

 

* * *

Members of The Invisible Committee, the radical French writing collective behind The Coming Insurrection, will be in the UK on Saturday March 21, for a talk about their new book, A nos amis. The event, hosted by Sussex Anarchists, is at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, at 6pm.

anosamis

* * *

Acorn quote: “Progress, what you call progress, this incessant hustle-bustle, this rapid tiring and neurasthenic, short-breathed chase after novelty, after anything new as long as it is new, this progress and the crazy ideas of the practitioners of development associated with it… this progress, this unsteady, restless haste; this inability to remain still and this perpetual desire to be on the move, this so-called progress is a symptom of our abnormal condition, our unculture”. Gustav Landauer, For Socialism.

Gustav Landauer
Gustav Landauer

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The Acorn – 3

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Number 3


In this issue:

  1. Tear gas and water cannon
  2. What is Elbit scared of?
  3. Reclaiming the fields
  4. Sussex – fracking threat to rural bridge
  5. EDL fascists target Brighton
  6. Acorninfo

1. Tear gas and water cannon

maniftoulouse

manifnantescannon

Tear gas, water cannon and “flashball” rubber bullets have been fired at people protesting against police violence and against the destruction of the countryside brought about by the system the cops brutally defend.

Bank and shop windows were smashed and there were dozens of arrests in two cities on different parts of France on Saturday February 21.

The clashes were the latest episode in a growing wave of resistance in France against totalitarian capitalism and its environmentally-destructive infrastructure.

Two simultaneous protests were staged in Nantes and Toulouse, reflecting the struggle against the proposed new airport for Nantes and outrage at the murder by police of Rémi Fraisse, a student at Toulouse University.

manifs

The young environmentalist was killed by a grenade fired at his back at point-blank range by gendarmes during protests against a proposed new dam at Sivens near Le Testet in the south of France.

The call-out for the resistance in the two cities was “against the concreting of our countryside and the militarisation of our towns”.

The concreting of the countryside threatens to become even worse, with the French state confirming it will be pushing ahead with the airport at Notre-Dame-Des-Landes, protected by the long-established ZAD protest camp.

And, of course, the militarisation of the towns was in evidence at the protests, with the police as usual claiming they had been “forced” to deploy their frightening armoury against dissidents because a bit of paint had been lobbed in their general direction.

The French media reported that the notoriously violent CRS riot cops even attacked journalists with their batons.

manifnantes3

Various video reports can be seen here:

http://rt.com/in-motion/234559-france-airport-protest-clashes/

http://www.francetvinfo.fr/france/les-manifestations-degenerent-a-nantes-et-toulouse_831483.html

http://www.euronews.com/2015/02/22/clashes-erupt-at-anti-police-violence-rallies-in-nantes-and-toulouse/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhCirpVdbL8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCOWqKZpKR4

manifnantes2

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2. What is Elbit scared of?

elbit
The rooftop occupation in Kent in February 2015

Activists successfully shut down an arms company in Kent on Tuesday February 17.

They struck under cover of darkness, at 5am, at the premises of Instro Precision near Broadstairs, to protest against its sales to both Israel and Afghanistan. Four people took the roof with banners to shut the factory down, with ten more on the ground, one of whom locked herself to the front gate. See the video in this successful appeal for financial support.

Instro is owned by Israeli arms company Elbit Systems, which makes drones that are used to kill Palestinian civilians in Gaza. Optical and camera systems like those made at the Instro factory are also supplied by Elbit for use in drones flown over Afghanistan, as well as in Israel’s apartheid wall.

A wide range of groups came together to make the blockade happen, including: Brighton BDS, Brighton Palestine Action, Smash EDO, Stop NATO Cymru, Anarchist Action Network, East Kent CAAT and Swansea Action for Palestine.

The blockade began before dawn
The blockade began before dawn

The occupiers stayed in place for nearly 13 hours and decided to leave after having shut the firm down for the whole working day. Kent Police put out a statement describing the protest as “lawful” and nobody was arrested, let alone charged.

Good news – but why would the authorities, presumably with the tacit backing of the firm affected, decide to take no legal action against people blockading a factory?

The answer can probably be found in the story of a previous factory occupation near Birmingham, in August 2014, when activists closed down another Elbit subsidiary, UAV Engines Limited, for two days at the height of Israel’s summer military assault on Gaza.

After putting the factory out of business for two days, all activists were removed by police, arrested, charged with aggravated trespass and taken to court for preliminary hearings. However, all these charges were suddenly dropped at the end of January this year, a week before the case was due to go to trial.

It seems the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) had to pull out at the last minute because company managers mysteriously decided to go back on previous commitments to testify against the nine.

Said a statement from London Palestine Action: “The decision taken by the CPS to drop charges against us shows us that either Elbit Systems were unwilling to testify in court about their activities or because the UK government was unwilling to comply with the court’s order to disclose information it holds about licenses for arms exports to Israel, or both.”

The aftermath of an Israeli drone attack
The aftermath of an Israeli drone attack

*  Corporate Watch have published a briefing called Gaza: Life Beneath the Drones.

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3. Reclaiming the fields

RTFbanner

Reclaim the Fields are holding a day of learning and network-building in Wales on Saturday March 7.

The event at the Red and Black Umbrella at 57-58 Clifton Street, Cardiff, will be built around the topics of growing projects, access to land and food sovereignty.

It starts at 1pm and will be followed in the evening, from 7pm, by a benefit gig in aid of the fight for the Yorkley Court Community Farm in the Forest of Dean, now facing eviction (see Acorninfo).

An article on Reclaim the Fields by Ed Hamer in The Land magazine says: “Taking its name from the road protest collective which swept the UK in the early 1990s, the movement intends to employ the same creative mix of political lobbying, networking and direct action in its objective to get the 21st century peasantry back onto the land.

“Just as the climate change debate has inspired a new generation to push the environment onto the political agenda, those of us who feel particularly passionate about food and farming have the potential to do the same for agriculture.”

On its website, Reclaim the Fields describes itself as a constellation of people and collective projects willing to go back to the land and reassume control over food production.

It adds: “We are determined to create alternatives to capitalism through cooperative, collective, autonomous, real needs-oriented small scale production and initiatives, putting theory into practice and linking local practical action with global political struggles.”

RTF - heathrow

Reclaim the Fields emerged in March 2011 from a small gathering at Grow Heathrow, a land squat set up to resist the expansion of Heathrow Airport.

RTF also supports the policies of Via Campesina, an international movement founded in 1993 by farmers’ organizations from Europe, Latin America, Asia, North America and Africa, which currently has its HQ in Jakarta, Indonesia.

via campesina

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4. Sussex – fracking threat to rural bridge

Boxal Bridge
Boxal Bridge in West Sussex – in the way of fracking

Nothing is to be allowed to stand in the way of the fracking industry and the authorities will do all they can to clear its path.

As we reported in Issue 2 of The Acorn, the new Infrastructure Act is designed to allow corporate interests to trample all over communities and the environment.

One small example of the way the authorities will bend over backwards for the extreme energy business comes from the West Sussex countryside between Wisborough Green and Kirdford.

In July 2014 an application by fracking firm Celtique Energy for oil and gas exploration was refused by West Sussex County Council’s planning committee at a meeting in Horsham.

One of the cited reasons for the refusal was “unsafe” road access for the fracking traffic. Committee chair Heidi Brunsdon admitted: “There were simply too many highways issues and other issues of concern for any decision other than refusal in this instance.”

One of the biggest issues involved Boxal Bridge, a beautiful rural structure dating from the 1850s, which was clearly too narrow to cope with hundreds of fracking lorries.

But where there’s a will there’s a way – and West Sussex County Council has helpfully come up with a plan to get rid of this particular obstacle to the path of ecocidal profiteering.

Two months after refusing Celtique’s plans, it commissioned a “feasibility study” on Boxal Bridge and of the six options recommended it chose number six – to demolish the bridge and build a two-lane crossing suitable for heavy industrial traffic.

This was despite the two local parish councils of Kirdford and Wisborough Green, and many local residents, opposing the demolition.

Once again, here is capitalism showing itself in physical form – as the infrastructure of the cancerous growth known as industrial civilisation.

A petition has been set up to demand that the bridge is not demolished.

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5. EDL fascists target Brighton

Anti-fascists block the racists' route in 2012
Anti-fascists block the racists’ route in 2012

Anti-fascists in Brighton are preparing for action after notorious extreme-right group the EDL announced plans for a march through the Sussex city on Saturday April 18 2015.

It was looking like being a quieter April than usual for Brighton, after the racists of the March for England announced they would be heading to Blackpool instead.

Previous years have seen dramatic scenes on the streets, with police attacking and arresting numerous anti-racist protesters in order to try to clear a way for the dwindling fascist contingent.

In recent years, mobile steel barriers have been used by the authorities to create a sterile area near the seafront where the nazis can parade away from the hostility of the Brighton public.

Anti-fascists protecting Brighton in 2012
Anti-fascists protecting Brighton in 2012

News that the EDL is stepping into the breach left by their friends in the MFE will come as a surprise to many – the EDL usually hangs its protests on the excuse of opposing “islamification” of certain areas.

Rather than merely diverting popular dissatisfaction with the capitalist system against minority scapegoats, the EDL here seems to be fulfilling the other classic fascist function of physically threatening radical opponents of the capitalist system.

Anti-racist website EDL News reports: “Due to the fact that there is not a large Muslim population in Brighton, it is thought that the demo has been called to confront what they see as a left wing city who do not put up with their politics of racism and division.”

To confirm this, it shows a screenshot from a social media conversation between EDL supporters, one of whom declares that “its time the left wing gets whats coming to them”.

With local anti-fascists already spreading the word about their intentions, the EDL may once again find it difficult to turn its belligerent online boasting into reality on the streets.

Outnumbered - the March for England in 2013
Outnumbered – the March for England in 2013

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6. Acorninfo

Land activists at Yorkley Court in the Forest of Dean are this week facing eviction. For the last two and a half years, they have been trying to establish a sustainable community farm, but a local millionaire property developer has other ideas and filed a claim for possession of the land. Said an update posted on the activists’ website on Thursday February 26: “News just received, Judge Harrington has ruled in favour of Brian Bennett for possession of Yorkley Court. We have 24 hours’ notice for the farmhouse, 3 days for the back field and the area surrounding the farmhouse, and 14 days for the bottom strip. Support will be appreciated during this stressful time, materials, bodies, hearts, minds and all. Keep an eye out for updates and ways to help.”

* * *

The theft of a local Sussex beach by a private company has been upheld by the legal authorities. Locals have been trying to stop Newhaven Port and Properties from excluding the public from West Beach, a sandy spot traditionally used and loved by townsfolk. But their latest attempt failed on Wednesday February 24) after the Supreme Court said the area could not after all be registered as a village green, overturning a decision by the Appeal Court in March 2013. NPP has now announced plans to expand its operations into part of Tide Mills beach. Newhaven mayor Judith Ost told local press: “The Supreme Court has today found that the beach has been used by local people for generations by permission of the port authority – and we see no reason why local people cannot continue to do so.” Warned Nicola Hodgson of the Open Spaces Society: “This judgment comes on top of the pernicious change in English law, the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013, which outlaws applications to register greens where land is threatened with development.  With the courts and parliament working against us, the future of our precious open spaces is increasingly perilous.”

Newhaven West Beach
Stolen – Newhaven’s West Beach
How it used to look
How it used to look

* * *

The interface between anarchism and art is explored in Herbert Read: Art and Idealism by Michael Paraskos. Reviewer Paul Cudenec says the book “makes no futile attempt to flatten out Read’s work and life in order to make it fit into some pre-determined category” and encourages readers “to step off the well-trod road of narrow thinking and forge their own path of empowering intellectual discovery”. Full article at https://network23.org/paulcudenec

Read book

* * *

Some basic tips for community campaigning have been set out by local anarchist website The Hereford Heckler,which started life in early 2008, originally as the bimonthly paper of Hereford Solidarity League. The Heckler stresses: “Remember: If you are going to do community organising, do it in your own area; don’t be a missionary!”

Hereford Heckler

* * *

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.

NPG P1681; Herbert Read by Rollie McKenna
Herbert Read

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