The Acorn – 40

acornmastheadnew1

Number 40


In this issue:

  1. Stop fracking before it’s too late!
  2. An airport defeated, a capitalist system still to be toppled
  3. The murky world of US “counter-disinformation”
  4. Time’s up for the fake neoliberal “left”
  5. Acorninfo

1. Stop fracking before it’s too late!

The fight against fracking in the north of England is to be dramatically intensified with three months of intense direct action against the sinister and toxic industry.

The newly-launched United Resistance group is promising significant levels of activity, starting in April, when Cuadrilla says it expects to begin fracking at its Preston New Road site near Blackpool.

Say United Resistance: “The situation is urgent and it is only a united and powerful resistance that will halt fracking before it’s too late – and we’re on the threshold of it being too late.

“If the industry performs a ‘frack job’ then the damage is done and stopping them becomes a far greater challenge.

“Sites across the UK are making a stand with residents taking part in community meetings, rallies and non-violent direct actions; here in Lancashire, we know that Cuadrilla intends on pushing the chemicals, silica sand and vast quantities of water underground between April and July.”

“We are asking nothing more of you than your body and if you can’t bring us this… then your online shares, letter writing, local actions and events… but mostly, we need you here with us for any part of  three months of targeted resistance starting 2nd April 2018.”

Campaigner Tina Rothery’s blog reveals that the initiative will see different groups ‘adopting’ a week each in order to bring about maximum resistance to the fracking industry.

She says: “The first week has been adopted by the women of Nanashire as well as women from the weekly Call for Calm, the local area, other groups and camps”.

Tina calls on women to take time off work and arrange care so that they can be available at Preston New Road in Lancashire “to exercise our lawful right to peaceful protest and non-violent action”.

Meanwhile, in Yorkshire, Frack Free Ryedale and Frack Free United have organised a series of talks in eight villages about INEOS’s shale gas exploration plans in the area – for full details see the Drill or Drop website.

Opponents of fracking point to the large number of fracking bans, moratoria and restrictions across Europe, “every single one of them powered by ordinary people standing up against a corrupt political system”.

As one local group in Yorkshire put it: “We can do this – standing together against fracking is the only way we can make a difference and stop the destruction of our beautiful villages and countryside”.

There are strong signs that the battle is winnable. When Conservative-controlled Derbyshire County Council rejected INEOS plans to explore for shale gas at Bramleymoor Lane in the village of Marsh Lane on Monday February 5, it was the fourth time in under a fortnight that an English council had opposed shale gas plans.

The message is clear and simple: people power can defeat fracking. And the death-breathing industrial capitalist dragon of which it is just one poisonous fang.

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2. An airport defeated, a capitalist system still to be toppled

A huge victory party is being staged at Notre-Dame-des-Landes near Nantes in France on Saturday February 10, after the French state finally abandoned plans to build a new airport there after 50 years of resistance and occupation.

Now the struggle will revolve around resisting the authorities’ declared intention of evicting the ZAD autonomous zone which was the focal point of the successful long-term campaign.

There has already been a reaction amongst more radical campaigners against the idea that now the airport has been scrapped, everyone can pack up and go home happy.

Said one statement: “True, the airport project has been abandoned… Certainly, it is a victory for the struggle against the airport of Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

“But many of us have fought and supported the struggle against the airport and its world. The capitalist world, to tell the truth, the world of economic and social inequalities, the world of oppression and exclusion. Is this struggle victorious? And if it is not, how can it still radiate towards other struggles against useless and imposed mega projects?

“Since January 17, we are no longer fighting against this airport, but we are still fighting against its world and its allies. What is happening now in this struggle is also happening in many other struggles, environmental or social.”

The ZAD Forever website says, regarding February 10: “We will celebrate the fact that this unique landscape of forests, fields and wetlands will never be turned into a giant machine for burning the climate, never!

“It is also is a victory of all those who have put their bodies in the way of the machines for decades, a victory for a truly popular movement that brought so many differences together into a rich composition, a victory for an unimaginable diversity of tactics from sabotage to petition writing, direct action to mass demos, it a victory for all those who live on within this bocage (the name of this specific type of landscape, a rich chequerboard of small fields, hedgerows and forests) and are trying to reinvent forms of life together, despite capitalism and the state.

“The 10th of February will a day to celebrate the burying of the project, to show that the ZAD is here to stay, that we are going to continue to grow roots deep down into this territory and to demonstrate our solidarity with other struggles against destructive projects around the world”.

People are being invited to bring saplings, bushes and shrubs to plant and enrich the hedgerows and to come dressed for carnival in Green One style.

“Marching bands, a giant fire-breathing salamander and other mythical beasts, will lead the crowds through the zone towards a convergence point where everyone is invited to put effigies (in wood, paper or cardboard) of unwanted projects against which they are resisting into a giant bonfire with a big surprise at its heart ! With a plethora of musicians, bands and invited Dj’s, we will dance and feast together late into the night.”

The joint press release put out by a range of airport opponents on January 17 declared: “This is an historical victory against a destructive project. This was made possible thanks to a long mobilisation that has been both diverse and determined.

“First of all, we’d like to sincerely thank everyone that mobilised against this airport project over the past 50 years.

“As regard to the future of the ZAD, the whole movement would like to confirm the following points:

“The need for the farmers and people that were expropriated to recover their rights as soon as possible

“The refusal of any eviction of those who came here over the last few years to live and defend the place, and who wish to continue living here and look after the area.

“The will to let the various actors of the struggle (farmers, naturalists, locals, groups, people that have lived here for a long time or have just joined us) handle, on the long term, the land/fields of the ZAD.”

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3. The murky world of US “counter-disinformation”

More light has been shed on the murky network of dodgy organisations behind the current anti-Russian and “fake news” hysteria, designed (as we explained in Acorn 39) as the perfect pretext for a fascistic clamp-down on all online news and views unwelcome to the global capitalist elite.

On this side of the Atlantic, it has emerged that the European Commission’s “High Level Expert Group” investigating unauthorised news is, as the anti-capitalist commentator Civic Critic points out, “made up of Google, Facebook and Twitter employees, plus appointees chosen by centrist US-aligned media”.

And in the USA on January 10 a significant Senate report on the subject was unveiled, which dresses up its real agenda with a flurry of inflated claims about Russia’s “malign influence operations”.

Corporate media such as CNN faithfully lapped all this up, of course, and gushed obligingly about “Russia’s arsenal of military invasions, disinformation campaigns and corruption, and its weaponization of energy resources”.

But, more significantly, the report calls on companies such as Facebook and Twitter to be held more “accountable” because “social media platforms are a key conduit of disinformation that undermines democracies”.

Read that last quote again! This is chilling stuff. In neoliberal language, “disinformation campaigns” which “undermine democracies” of course include factual reports which happen to reveal inconvenient truths about US military and economic global domination.

The agenda is clear. The genie of uncensored information unleashed by the internet is threatening neoliberal power and must urgently be pushed back into the totalitarian bottle of elite control.

The “who” and “where” of the Senate report’s presentation are also useful indicators of the political agenda which fuels its claims.

It was unveiled to the world by veteran US Democrat politician Ben Cardin, whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s forthcoming election opponent.

Ben Cardin launches the report

Cardin is known for his vehemently pro-Israel stance. As The Intercept points out, “Cardin’s crowning achievement came last year when he authored a bill that would have made it a felony to support a boycott of Israel”.

And the “where”? Cardin launched the report at the HQ of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, which, as we reported in Acorn 39, has been leading the propaganda campaign against so-called fake news, partly through its front organisation, the Alliance for Securing Democracy.

Following on from our articles, we have been pointed towards some further fascinating information about the GMF on the Powerbase website.

It notes that the GMF was conceived during the Cold War to tie Europe to the United States and was “a breeding ground for journalists, university students and politicians committed to Atlantism”.

The GMF was set up in 1972 at a time of widespread protest against the US war in Vietnam, it adds. The Red Army Fraction had just attacked the US Army HQ in Heidelberg to destroy the strategic computer that controlled its bombers in South-East Asia.

“It was also the time of the strategy of tension whereby NATO secret services manipulated right and left-wing factions to encourage a more authoritarian government.

“The idea behind the Fund was that it would facilitate the identification and recruitment of new ‘messengers of Atlantism’. With the collapse of the cold war the neoconservatives have reactivated the Atlantic networks, to use in their own project dominated by two terms coined by Joseph Nye: ‘Neo-liberalism’ and ‘soft power’.”

In the light of all this, it comes as little surprise to discover, on a close reading of the report, that talk of the so-called “threat” from Russia is nothing but a thinly-disguised geopolitical call for action to defend US global corporate imperialism.

It claims, for instance, that bogeyman Putin has “made it a priority of his regime to attack the democracies of Europe and the United States and undermine the transatlantic alliance upon which Europe’s peace and prosperity have depended upon for over 70 years”.

It also says the US government should continue to oppose the construction of their rivals’ Nord Stream 2 pipeline, “a project which significantly undermines the long-term energy security of Europe and the economic prospects of Ukraine”.

So that’ll be the famous “weaponization of energy resources” – moves which undermine European states’ complete dependence on the US capitalist system.

The same twisted Cold War mentality also sees the report claim that the European anti-fracking movement is being secretly supported by the Russians, in order to keep the continent “more dependent on Russian supplies”.

Anti-fracking Nanas in Lancashire – part of Putin’s fiendish plot to undermine the transatlantic alliance?

And all the talk of “fake news” really concerns a propaganda war being waged by the US to maintain the economic, military and cultural occupation of Europe, originally just Western Europe, that it has maintained since the end of the Second World War.

When the report writes of “disinformation and conspiracy theories that seek to undermine European institutions like the EU and NATO” that’s what it’s all about. Control. From the US imperialist point of view, any information that threatens its interests is automatically “disinformation”. Any analysis of the underhand activities of the CIA, NATO etc is automatically “conspiracy theories”. Any news it doesn’t like is automatically “fake news”.

The talk of dastardly Russian attempts to “break centrist consensus” by supporting “extreme” political parties reflects US fears that its own placemen (“centrists” like Tony Blair and Emmanuel Macron) will no longer be able to ensure that Europe is under the American military-corporate thumb.

The language is coded but nevertheless clear. “Democratic” always translates as “capitalist”, while “transatlantic values” refer to the US strings attached to European puppet-politics, as in the statement that “Merkel’s Germany has led the defense of transatlantic values that underlie open, democratic societies”.

The report makes it plain that any method is considered fair in this propaganda war in defence of the US Empire, talking blatantly about creating “narratives” that suit US objectives.

It states at one point: “The RAND analysts also recommend not just countering the actual propaganda, but its intended effects. For example, if the Kremlin is trying to undercut support for a strong NATO response to Russian aggression, then the West should promote narratives that strengthen support for NATO and promote solidarity with NATO members facing threats from Russia.”

So what would “promoting a narrative” involve, then? Inventing threats from Russia to drum up support for NATO? It certainly sounds that way!

It’s interesting to note that the report itself does not talk about the US publishing information, as in true information, to counter “Russian disinformation”, but rather something called “counter-disinformation”.

The hub for this, it tells us, is the Global Engagement Center, within the State Department, which is “tasked with coordinating counter-disinformation efforts across the US government”.

It includes personnel from the Department of Defense, Department of Treasury, National Security Agency, National Counterterrorism Center, the Broadcasting Board of Governors and, of course, the CIA.

In case there were any lingering doubts about what kind of “fake news” and “disinformation” the CIA and its chums are keen to stamp out, there are a couple of telling mentions of President Macron of France, a particular favourite of the neoliberal establishment.

The report complains that “during the French presidential elections, Sputnik reported on unfounded rumors about the sexual preferences of the pro-EU candidate, Emmanuel Macron”.

It adds later: “Reports disseminated by these outlets and on pro-Kremlin social media had variously decried Macron as a puppet of US political and business leaders, alleged he held an offshore account in the Bahamas to evade taxes, and fueled rumors of an extra-marital gay relationship, which Macron publicly denied.”

Obviously any suggestion that Macron is a puppet of the US (and in fact a product of the US Marshall Memorial Fellowship scheme!) is the sort of dreadful slander that should never be allowed to see the light of day in any self-respecting freedom-loving centrist democracy, committed to transatlantic values.

Macron is much appreciated in Washington, DC

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4. Time’s up for the fake neoliberal “left”

A powerful backlash is underway against the ideological sabotage which has been undermining anti-capitalism for the last few decades.

Since the turn of the century, radical political thought in the West has increasingly been infected by self-defeating tendencies which destroy its coherency and energy from the inside.

But now it  is starting to shake off the debilitating intellectual malady and is reasserting its own inspiring vision of a world beyond capitalism.

People are turning their backs on the defeatist analysis that suggests there is no point in identifying and opposing the current system and its ruling class.

They are refusing to sign up to an ultra-liberal pseudo-radical agenda which promotes individualism in a fake-leftist guise and which can only imagine collective levels of oppression and resistance within the limits of the intersectionality of purely individual experiences.

One important recent intervention came from the anarchist thinker Miguel Amorós in the course of two talks in Mexico in November.

Here he strongly criticised postmodernism, which he described as the first ever philosophy not to be based on the love of truth. Instead it relativises the idea, regarding it as a mere “construct” – something artificial and with no real foundation.

The logical conclusion of this kind of thinking, he warns, is that no universal value or concept will be considered valid. “Being, reason, justice, equality, solidarity, community, humanity, revolution and emancipation will all be classed as ‘essentialist’, in other words as ‘pro-nature’ abominations”.

Amorós noted that, although it pretends to be radical and has infected anarchist thinking, the postmodern philosophy amounts to “nihilism in harmony with the Markets, for which anything without economic value is of little importance”.

The contemporary “intersectional game of oppressed minorities” is replacing a collective resistance to established power, warned Amorós.

Miguel Amorós is pictured on the right

He said this was the latest stage of a historical sabotage of authentic opposition to industrial capitalism, that had begun at the end of the 1960s.

“Once the revolutionary subject had been neutralised in practice, it had to be suppressed in theory, so that its struggles might remain isolated, marginalised and incomprehensible, wrapped up in a brain-sapping, self-referential waffle designed only for the initiated. That was the task of French Theory.”

A similar message comes in an article by Sandra C. in the French-language anti-capitalist bulletin Négatif, in which she condemns the “insidious influence exerted on left-wing circles for many years by the postmodernist theory and cultural studies”.

Sandra C. writes: “By abandoning the concept of exploitation in favour of an analysis based on relationships of domination, by abandoning universalism for a defence of particularism and by abandoning the idea of a revolutionary and universal proletariat, so-called radical activists find themselves far away, poles apart even, from the emancipatory politics they claim as their own.”

She describes postcolonialism as closely linked to postmodernism and criticises the attitudes associated with what is sometimes known as critical whiteness.

She says: “It is disconcerting to see so-called revolutionaries, taking on board a collective guilt for colonial exploitation and its crimes and feeling shamefully ‘European’, ‘French’, ‘white’ and ‘privileged’. Self-assigned identity-based labels dressed up with guilt are not the way to emancipation and are in fact just mirror images of the identities claimed by the extreme right.”

Elsewhere, US-based journalist and writer Andre Vltchek condemned the anti-revolutionary thinking of the contemporary Western left in a blog article on February 3.

He writes: “The European left betrayed as early as in the 1980’s, by becoming too soft, too undisciplined, too cautious and too self-centered. It put pragmatism above the ideals. It rapidly adopted the lexicon of the liberal ideological establishment, complete with Western perceptions of human rights, democratic principles and political correctness.

“It ceased to be revolutionary; it essentially stopped all revolutionary activities, and it abandoned the core element of any true left-wing identity – internationalism.”

Vltchek adds: “The Western left is much more part of the West than of the left.”

A German-language diagram has also been circulating on social media which draws a distinction between the “traditional” and the “new” left.

It contrasts the traditional left’s struggle on behalf the  majority of the population with the new left’s over-emphasis on minorities.

The traditional left is internationalist, calling for the workers of the world to unite against capitalism, but the new left tends to be globalist in the liberal sense, it says.

Whereas the traditional left is anti-fascist, anti-imperialist and anti-war, seeing fascism and militarism as aspects of the capitalist system, the phoney liberal left swallows the lie that there could be such a thing as a “humanitarian” war and that states which do not bow down to Western interests are basically dictatorships, fascist regimes that “we” have a moral duty to oppose.

The traditional left has always been against the power of financial capital, but for the new liberal left this position smacks of anti-Americanism, even anti-Semitism.

Freedom of opinion has always been a mainstay of traditional left-wing thought, since the Enlightenment, but the new left denies this freedom to any thinking which strays outside of its own values, the values of “the West”, it is further claimed.

The suggested differences between these two kinds of “left” stem from differences in ways of seeing the world and don’t necessarily apply to practical policies and sympathies.

The “old left” is far from indifferent to the plight of refugees, for instance, but does not regard their situation as something outside of the general conditions of capitalism, against which it is already fighting.

It includes the need to help migrants and oppose racism within its left-wing vision of the world, but it does not fetishise and separate off this particular aspect of the overall struggle, leaving it open to reformist recuperation.

We should acknowledge, at this point, that, in the past and today, some anti-capitalists have paid lip service to the idea of racism but have avoided facing up to the reality of racism as experienced by individual people. They have not properly considered how this shapes their vision of society, social movements and anti-capitalist struggle.

But this criticism has clearly been taken too far when “left-wing” ideologies end up rejecting the universalism which has always been the bedrock of the left’s internationalism and anti-racism.

It is, in fact, quite mysterious how the postmodernist critique of universalism has so easily been swallowed by swathes of the so-called left.

The argument is based on the way that, historically, European colonialists described their own values as “universal” to justify imposing them on the rest of the world.

But it is false logic to claim that because the term “universal” was misused in this way, it therefore has no validity.

The idea of human universality should be fundamental to any socialist, anarchist or communist view of the world. This is the bedrock of our opposition to racism, nationalism and all the other excuses for separating people, dividing them into categories, deciding that some have more “rights” than others.

It is closely linked to the idea of equality. From a universalist perspective, all human beings are equal.

Right-wingers have always, of course, deliberately misunderstood the idea of equality. They try to pretend that it means left-wingers want to “make everyone the same”, to create some kind of faceless totalitarianism which imposes this terrible equality on us all.

They refuse to accept that equality is perfectly compatible with diversity and simply means acknowledging the theoretical equal value of every single human being, whatever their particular characteristics.

The postmodernist argument against universalism is, effectively, this same stupid right-wing argument! It deliberately presents universalism as a way of imposing a certain model on people, of destroying diversity in the name of some kind of central control.

But this is just not true. Universality, like equality, comes from below, from within humankind. There is a human universality which bonds us. There is a human equality which unites us. Left-wing, particularly anarchist, thinking understands and embraces this.

Throwing out universalism from the anti-capitalist world-view sabotages it at a fundamental level. Reclaiming universalism is therefore the first stage in renewing the international ideological and political struggle against capitalism and all the fragmented, incoherent, disempowering philosophies that it spawns.

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5. Acorninfo

Thousands of people protested in Switzerland in January against the World Economic Forum at Davos, and the presence of US President Donald Trump (see preview in Acorn 39). The venue hosting the global elite was protected by thousands of troops and protests there were banned on the flimsy pretext that there was “too much snow” in the Alpine resort.

* * *

A big weekend of international solidarity with the struggle to defend Hambach Forest in Germany was staged on February 3 and 4. Reports Hambachforest.org: “From all across Germany, from Genoa, Amsterdam and Spain, from Bristol and countless other locations came solidarity demonstrations, soli photos , banner drops, actions and all other outpourings of support. The largest demo took place in Cologne. Large demonstrations also took part in Aachen and Essen.” Although tree felling is on temporary hold, the authorities are trying to evict the 20 tree-houses and 11 barrios which have been set up to block the mine’s expansion and levels of police repression are on the rise.

* * *

Campaigners in Italy are trying to halt the environmentally-destructive Trans Adriatic Pipeline project, which aims to bring gas from Azerbaijan via Greece and Albania. On February 6 the EU’s bank EIB approved a €1.5bn loan for the controversial TAP project. Commented Friends of the Earth Europe: “This will keep Europe hooked on fossil fuels for decades – just when we should be kicking our fossil fuel addiction”. But the fight in Italy goes on. Said the NoTap campaign on February 7: “The day after EIB’s criminal decision to finance a huge useless and anachronistic project, the population continues to fight against the realization of TAP”.

* * *

If you believed the industry’s propaganda, you’d probably imagine that opposition to fracking is a lot of fuss about nothing. The odd well here and there, what’s the problem? But can you imagine living in a town with 300 fracking wells, where asthma is rife and children can’t go out and play because of poison gas in the air? That’s the reality in the USA, where fracking has been allowed to get a hold, as illustrated in the excellent documentary Don’t Frack With Denton. A successful campaign earns a fracking ban, which is overturned by corrupt authorities, steering local activists towards direct action and anarchist principles. “We will be enforcing our ban here,” they declare. “Expect resistance!”

* * *

The UK’s Anarchist Action Network is next meeting in Bristol, from 1pm to 4pm on Sunday March 11. The session is being held at “Resist!” (previously known as “Kebele Community Co-Op”), in Robertson Road.  All anarchists welcome.

* * *

A planned road tunnel past Stonehenge, England’s most important prehistoric site, could spell the loss of a unique site nearby, that can trace the presence of people back to 8000 BC, reports The Guardian. Warned David Jacques, an archaeologist at the University of Buckingham: “The intention is that an 8m high flyover will be built next to the site. One of trenches is only 2m away from the road. They seem prepared to carry on no matter what. It’s a scandal that this is being rushed through.”

* * *

“In May 2015, a declassified Pentagon document provided shocking evidence that the US-led campaign in Syria not only contributed directly to the rise of the Islamic State (IS), but that Washington was perfectly satisfied with such an outcome.” This is one of ten “very curious facts” about ISIS published by Mint News Press on January 30. The rest are worth a look, as well.

* * *

“The future of humanity is the struggle between humans that control machines and machines that control humans… Undetectable mass social influence powered by artificial intelligence is an existential threat to humanity.” This was the stark warning from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange on January 18, 2018. But since he’s a known denier of transatlantic values, and a fugitive from liberal Western justice, everything he says can safely be dismissed as nothing more than extremist disinformation.

* * *

Acorn quote: “The social distinction that counts most in the present state of things is that based on wealth, that is to say on a purely outward superiority of an exclusively quantitative order”.

René Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World

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

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The Acorn – 36

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Number 36


In this issue:

  1. Toxic clouds of capitalism
  2. Envisioning a post-Western world
  3. On the knife’s edge
  4. Anarchy in Hamburg
  5. Anarchy in London
  6. Blocking the arms fair
  7. Acorninfo

1. Toxic clouds of capitalism

On Sunday August 27 crowds of people enjoying a day on the beach at Birling Gap near Eastbourne, East Sussex, suddenly started coughing and spluttering, and rubbing their eyes, before fleeing the coast en masse.

They had fallen victim to a cloud of chemical gas, later identified as chlorine, which had drifted onto the southern English coast from the Channel. Some 150 people were treated in hospital in what was described by emergency services as “a major incident“.

The mainstream media reaction to this nightmarish episode was predictably understated and narrow, restricting itself to speculation as to where the poison gas may have specifically come from – Rotterdam, maybe, or northern France, or a ship in the Channel, or an old wreck.

With the honourable exception of the local Friends of the Earth, nobody was interested in the bigger picture.

Meanwhile, in the USA, Hurricane Harvey resulted in Houston’s petrochemical industry leaking thousands of tons of pollutants, with communities living near plants damaged by the storm exposed to soaring levels of toxic fumes and potential water contamination.

The plain truth about both instances of environmental poisoning  is, of course, that they are products of the industrial capitalist system.

This is the same system which, as revealed by a new report, has produced 8.3bn tonnes of plastic since the 1950s, polluting the world’s continents and oceans and threatening a “near permanent contamination of the natural environment”.

This is the same system which has destroyed 80 per cent of the Earth’s natural forests, which is wiping out our fellow species by dozens every single day, with as many as 30 to 50 per cent of all species heading towards extinction by 2050.

And if we are looking for a way of ensuring that incidents like the ones at Eastbourne and Houston never happen again, if we want to avoid all the pollution and extinction, the only meaningful approach is to work for the dismantling or destruction of the industrial system.

Why is this so hard for so many people to understand or to accept? Why, even among radical critics of capitalist society, is there so much reluctance to contemplate the loss of its toxic infrastructures?

People often talk about their attachment to the “little luxuries” in life that come hand in hand with industrialism. But is the ability to watch videos or play electronic games at any time and any place they fancy really more important than the ability to sit in the open air without being assaulted by drifting clouds of chemicals?

Is the personal convenience provided by a washing machine or a car really so important that future generations might not be able to walk outside without an oxygen mask?

Are all the temporary, shallow, egotistic pleasures of modern Western existence really worth more than the continuing organic well-being of our precious world?

Clearly not – and so why does this realisation not translate into a political perspective that embraces the end of the industrial capitalist era as an overwhelming priority for us all?

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2. Envisioning a post-Western world

This is an extract from a full-length article of the same name by Rob los Ricos and Paul Cudenec, which can be found here.

The West’s current incarnation as Industrial Capitalism poses a severe and unprecedented threat to the health and wellbeing of the living planet in general and the human species in particular.

The very basis of this system is the so-called need for permanent “economic growth”, involving a theoretically endless increase in the exploitation of people and nature that, logically, can only end in disaster.

This system justifies and defends itself by means of a mesh of oppressive constructs such as “property”, “law” and “nation”, which today largely go unchallenged, even by critics of capitalism’s worse excesses.

General acceptance of these constructs serves to camouflage and legitimize the violence used by the system to impose its control. It thereby helps to criminalize any resistance to this oppressive violence.

In the Mexican revolution of the early part of the 20th century, the Zapatistas had a slogan: “It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.”

In the West, the pervasive attitude is currently one of ignorance, fear, and slothful privilege, wherein the suffering caused by Western institutions in far-off lands is not of consequence to the people who are causing it through an unquenchable lust for cheap consumer goods.

Few of the beneficiaries are even aware it is happening, and most wouldn’t care if they knew. If told that wireless technology is causing genocide in central Africa, most Western consumers would likely reply “I like my cell phone.” Or their X-box, or their internet-connected refrigerator.

Western consumers have decided that it is – indeed! –  much better to live in ignorance and servitude to corporatized, military police states, and to hell with the consequences, rather than do anything to stop campaigns of genocide beyond their field of vision. The products of privilege produced in the process are precious to them, not human lives, or a living planet.

If the society produced in Europe through centuries of bloody violence and subsequently unleashed to ravage the entire planet can be thought of as “civilization,” an intelligent human being can only conclude that this civilization is something which must be eradicated so thoroughly as to never again be obtainable.

If this does not happen, and soon, our planet will become uninhabitable, and life as we know it no longer possible. Something new will evolve in the toxic, ruined wastelands the West creates everywhere. It will not likely be compatible with living things that have been predominant for the past few million years.

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3. On the Knife’s Edge

When our comrades over at Antidote Zine decided to repost the full text of Envisioning a Post-Western World (see above), they did so with the following introduction:

“In light of recent discussions among antifascists (including here within the Antidote Writers Collective) about an esoteric but significant kind of red-brown convergence—the potential for fascist counter-recruiting on the more nihilistic, misanthropic fringes of deep green, Euro-pagan, and Malthusian eco-anarchist groups—we recognize that some of the arguments put forward in the article that follows are right on the knife’s edge.

“We present them nonetheless for two reasons: firstly, of course, these ideas are out there whether we like it or not and warrant critical attention; and second, if spaces—both physical and ideological—are vulnerable to fascist counter-recruiting, this implies an overlap where antifascist counter-recruiting could (and should) be happening as well. In other words (indeed the words of Magpie Killjoy elsewhere in these pages), it behooves people in contested cultural terrain to, well, contest it.”

It was a little odd to have cited nihilism regarding an article which specifically declares that “our desire for the destruction of the current system is not nihilistic in motivation, but is born of a yearning for another way of living”.

Likewise, neither of the two authors of the original piece sees any misanthropy, Malthusianism or specifically “Euro-” paganism in their joint article.

The problem seems to be that anarchists today are forever looking over their shoulders to see if they are being watched by what is essentially an internal Thought Police, self-appointed custodians of a flattened-out and narrowed-in version of anarchism.

Seemingly born in the cloisters of Academia, this strange hybrid of ultra-liberalism and reformist post-Marxism is more interested in language than reality. It delights in over-complicating issues, in spreading the notion that cynical sophistication is superior to passionate simplicity. It very much dislikes any clear or direct physical or intellectual confrontation with the current order.

It is a fairly fluid entity, which varies in emphasis from context to context. But we can say that it generally does not approve of opposing US imperialism, of defending Palestinian rights, of protesting against capitalist summits, of Black Bloc tactics, of exposing the covert machinations of the military industrial complex, of talking about the “one per cent” or the “banksters”, of challenging the capitalist cult of technology, of using any kind of “populist” language that might actually inspire people to take to the streets in rebellion.

For instance, a reflection on the protests against the G20 in Hamburg in July, written by the “Gruppe Internationaler SozialistInnen” and reproduced in translation on the Libcom website, pours scorn on anti-capitalist enthusiasm around riots which broke out in the city’s Schanzenviertel during the mobilisation (see below).

It drones on boringly about “the intellectual failure of the so-called ‘autonomists’ to even begin to distinguish between the simple breaking of glass and the expropriation and socialisation of the means of production and consumption through the action of the proletarianised”.

Tut tut. Unpolitical youth interfering with the socialisation of the means of production

It also complains: “The riots may have been ignited by anger over the police, but they quickly took on the dynamic of a content-free event-riot, participated in by party-goers, unpolitical youth and, according to rumours which must be taken seriously, even Nazi hooligans.”

This last little snipe is interesting, as it is a common feature of these kinds of critiques that they usually claim that out-and-out anti-capitalism represents some kind of “slippery slope” towards a new kind of fascism, or the famous and yet elusive “red-brown convergence” referred to by Antidote.

In France, these techniques have been used by “journalist” Ornella Guyet on her (happily now defunct) site confusionnisme.info to lump together everyone from environmentalists of the décroissance movement to Nuit Debout, Noam Chomsky and Jeremy Corbyn as “confusionist”, anti-semitic or somehow otherwise dangerously close to a mystifyingly broad redefinition of “fascism”.

Exposing her activities, the left-wing website Le Grand Soir concludes that she is “an opportunist in thrall to the neocolonial and ultra-liberal system”. It adds: “Ornella Guyet claims to be ‘left-wing’, but her work proves the opposite.” It says she uses the cover of anti-fascism to attack genuine opponents of the  capitalist system. “In this sense she is the perfect example of the Fake Antifa, a guard dog of power”.

The UK has its own fake leftists in the Ornella Guyet mould, as discussed in Acorn 19. In that article we concluded that there seemed to be “a network of journalists and academics actively working to steer the ‘Left’ away from any criticism of the USA and the capitalist system it dominates”.

The influence of this Fake Left is such that genuine anarchists and anti-capitalists are now self-censoring to avoid falling victim to their ideological smear campaigns.

We are edging towards a situation where the only “acceptable” form of opposition to the system is irrelevantly academic and reformist.

A pedantic and humourless ideological puritanism, masquerading as radicalism, limits itself to calling for the system to be made fairer, more inclusive or more democratic and is suspicious of anyone who dares to challenge the fundamental assumptions of power.

Apparently forgotten is the urgent and inspiring anarchist demand for capitalism to be wiped from history to pave the way for a completely different way of living.

If drawing attention to this means we are regarded in some quarters as being on the “knife’s edge” of acceptability, then so be it.

As our friends at Antidote point out, “it behooves people in contested cultural terrain to, well, contest it”.

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4. Anarchy in Hamburg

As we predicted (in Acorns 29 and 35), the protests against the G20 in Hamburg in July were powerful and significant, both in terms of anti-capitalist resistance and in terms of the kind of repressive policing we are likely to be facing in the rebellious years ahead.

A very full and excellent English-language report was posted by our US comrades at Crimethinc and rather than producing our own inferior version, we thought we’d just copy and paste a few sections of their long article to give our readers a taste of what went on. The Crimethinc report and analysis can be seen in full here.

State violence and popular resistance

The 2017 G20 summit provoked the most intense clashes in Germany yet this century. This is an epic story of state violence and popular resistance on a scale rarely witnessed in the US and northern Europe.

The police attempted to use brute force to isolate and terrorize all who came to demonstrate against the G20, but in the process, they turned a large part of the population against them and the city spiraled out of control.

The police strategy underscores how central old-fashioned coercive violence is to the power of the G20 leaders; yet once again, we saw that a determined populace can outmaneuver even the best-trained and best-equipped police.

If 20,000 fully militarized officers using everything short of lethal force can’t maintain order at the most important security event of the year in Europe’s richest nation, perhaps it is possible to imagine revolution on the horizon after all.

The Courage of the Black Bloc

Imagine the scene: you are in the front lines of the Welcome to Hell black bloc. You and your friends decided to be here months in advance, to ensure that the front of the bloc would be populated by reliable people. You knew from the beginning that you would be walking into a nightmare. Still, your commitment to your comrades and to the movement outweighs fear for your personal safety; you have chosen to be here, come injury or prison, out of love of humanity and desire for a better future. Unlike the police, you have no protective gear, you are not receiving a salary, and you are not following orders.

St. Pauli Fischmarkt forms a sort of canyon here, where it drops beneath the level of the other streets—but for you, facing an impenetrable wall of police, it feels more like an arena. The railings above you are packed with viewers. They throng the pedestrian walkway that passes overhead and the hill of the park to the north; they are even gathered on the rooftops of the tall apartment buildings beyond the park. Standing there below them, you can’t help resenting those spectators passively watching from the safety of their terraces. Ahead, you can make out one—two—three—at least four water cannons and some armored cars behind them. You and your companions are like gladiators trembling as the gates go up and the lions come out.

Explosions are going off behind you. They punctuate a din of screaming, shouting, and the robotic voice of police announcements over the loudspeaker. From your vantage point, you can’t see what is going on back there, where the police are carrying out charge after charge against the back of the bloc as demonstrators struggle to hold them off with a volley of bottles and debris. You can only smell the tear gas in the air and hear the sound of detonations and shattering glass. A canister explodes in front of you, enveloping you in smoke. When the smoke clears for a moment, you see that the ranks of the bloc behind you are thinning—fearful of being trapped and brutalized, demonstrators have formed a human pyramid to escape by climbing up the wall to the south.

At this moment, the riot police ahead of you charge, forming a wall all the way around the bloc stretching from the front to the northern side. There are perhaps fifty of you left in the front now, still holding up your banners as a fragile rampart against the full might of the state.

The water cannons zoom up, sirens blaring, and halt right in front of your line. There is a scene in The Fellowship of the Ring in which the orcs fall back as the mighty Balrog steps forth to attack the protagonists. In that same manner, the lines of white-helmeted riot police inch backwards as the water cannons train their barrels directly at you. Tear gas is still filling the air. The comrades behind you have fled. Deafening pandemonium. You are surrounded on three sides now, outnumbered ten to one by storm troopers clad head to toe in full body armor.

It could hardly be more terrifying if the earth cracked open and flames leapt out of the chasm. Welcome to hell, indeed.

The Wildfire Catches – and Spreads

At one point, the water cannons on Holstenstrasse were forced to retreat while the crowd chanted “Whose streets? Our streets!” Barricades appeared across the street; for a while, the police withdrew from the area.

Shortly before midnight, people gathered at Grüner Jäger once more, where barricades had been erected earlier. They threw bottles at the water cannons as they drove by. The same scene was playing out up and down the street for blocks.

Long lines of police vans kept whizzing past us on the street. Every time they passed, people would pelt them with bottles. Incredibly, the vans didn’t even stop. “This means they’ve totally lost control,” my friend from Hamburg explained. “Normally, they would never put up with that.”

A little after midnight, the police succeeded in dispersing the main body of the demonstration, but that only spread people throughout the area, where they continued fighting in smaller groups.

At about the same time, just around the corner, special forces positioned themselves in front of Rote Flora on Schulterblatt street. Clashes soon broke out here as well, and once more, the police were repeatedly forced to retreat. People erected burning barricades to keep them at bay.

All around the city, banks, luxury shops, and cars were attacked throughout the night. This occurred as far north as Osterstrasse, where several shop windows were broken. Similar damage occurred in Altona—to Sparkasse, for example.

At about 1:30 am, water cannons and a huge number of riot cops sought to disperse the crowd that had gathered at Sternbrücke. Yet clashes continued throughout the night on the smaller streets of central St. Pauli. Supposedly, 76 cops were injured in the course of the evening, although it later turned out that police had spread flagrant lies about the number of injuries they sustained. They refused to give out the numbers of injured and arrested protesters. Rescue teams were deployed 89 times, mostly to treat head injuries, broken bones, and abrasions.

Friday, July 7: Battleground Hamburg

We woke up to the sound of sirens. From the other side of the port, thick smoke was rising from the inner city. My comrade and I exchanged glances wordlessly.

Early in the morning, a black bloc made its way through Altona building barricades, smashing the windows of shops and banks, and burning several cars. They reached Ikea and attacked it with fire. The police were nowhere to be seen; they still had not regained control over the city since the previous night. Hamburg called for police reinforcements from elsewhere around Germany to join the 19,000 cops who were already present.

Elsewhere in Hamburg, police surrounded and trapped about a hundred people by the Rondenbarg trailer park, then charged and attacked them. Some of them tried to flee over a fence 4 meters high. Shouting “Antifa swine, this is your breakfast!” the police knocked down the fence and injured 14 people, 11 of them with broken bones and other serious injuries. Some of them were still in the hospital a week later. Police announced to the media that the group had attacked them first, but videos subsequently revealed this to be an outright lie.

A decree prohibiting protests in most of Hamburg had been in effect since 6 am. Yet soon after dawn, blockades had appeared throughout the city, especially around the port, the red zone where the summit was, and the roads that G20 delegates were using. The blockaders had gathered in the metro stations at Landungsbrücken, Berliner Tor, Altona, and Hammerbrook. From there, they moved through the city in different directions, carrying out a variety of decentralized actions. Some came close enough to the location of the summit to stop delegates in their vehicles.

At 8:20 am, the harbor was blockaded at Worthdamm and Veddeler Damm. This lasted until 11 am. Police attacked blockades throughout the city, but people quickly set up new ones. In the city center, around 10 am, police pushed blockaders towards Mönckebergstrasse. Melania Trump was delayed inside her hotel on account of confrontations outside it, and missed her scheduled activities.

At 10:30 am, all the blockaders had reached their positions, delaying the summit, shutting down the harbor, and disrupting the infrastructure of capitalism. Around 11, a convoy of G20 delegates was stopped on Gorch-Fock-Wall due to blockades. At the same time, thousands of students were going out on strike.

The Defense of Schanze, Police-Free Zone

By 9 pm, burning barricades surrounded the Schanze district. The police had been forced to withdraw. At 9:30, some stores were looted, including Rewe and Budni. Goods were taken from the stores and redistributed freely. Fierce clashes were taking place along Lerchenstrasse as great bonfires burned nearby. By 10:45 pm, people were affectionately describing St. Pauli as “out of control.”

In the clashes at the edge of the liberated zone, someone was using one of those enormous umbrellas that cover outdoor tables at cafés as a shield to try to protect himself from the water cannon. The force of the blast kept pushing him back so he skidded along the asphalt. Then somebody else got another umbrella from the café and wedged it behind the first one. In that position, the water cannon couldn’t move them. It was just symbolic, but somehow it felt like a moral victory.

Further into Schanze, at the burning barricade, people were looting an electronics store. Someone got his hands on a massive flatscreen monitor and carried it towards the fire. Everyone else was shouting for him not to do it, that it was expensive, but he joyously heaved it into the flames. Then everyone cheered, feeling somehow lighter. Destroying commodities can be a kind of therapy that relieves us of covetousness.

For me, these scenes exemplify the inventiveness and festive atmosphere that prevail in moments like the ones we experienced in Schanze when it was free of police.

The critical mass that had gathered at 7 pm rode into Schanze around 11 pm, at the high point of the evening. Despite all the fearsome rhetoric portraying Schanze as a scene out of Breughel during the time the police were excluded from it, those who were there experienced an atmosphere of revelry and camaraderie. Many businesses were open, packed with people buying falafel or drinks. As people lined the streets, cheering at the arrival of the bicyclists, it could have been a family-friendly festival. The vast majority of participants were not anarchists or foreigners from Southern Europe, but ordinary people from Hamburg who had turned against the police over the preceding week. Outside of Schanze, even in areas where there were no anarchists, locals pulled their own trashcans into the street, forcing the police to spread themselves ever thinner over more and more territory.

All this time, the police had been fighting on the terrain of media as well as on the streets. Earlier, they used their Twitter account to beg people not to support the black bloc; in the evening, they demanded that journalists stop filming their operations and retreat from the Schanze district. Some officers even forced journalists to leave at gunpoint. Obviously, they did not want media documenting their loss of control, nor their violent attempts to reestablish it.

Outright resistance is already popular

Rather than imagining a faceless “general public” that disapproves of violence (except when the police enact it) and believes whatever the pundits say, let’s remember that society is comprised of countless different elements, many of whom have opinions that are never repeated on television by talking heads.

Most of the fearmongering about the resistance to the G20 is an intentional media campaign with classic talking points. It isn’t intended to reflect reality as it is, but rather to make us fearful of each other, to make it hard to imagine that there are others who want what we want. On Saturday, looking around the crowd in downtown Hamburg, it was clear that outright resistance is already popular.

Further reports from Hamburg can be found here and here.

A report on ongoing repression, including the German state’s closing-down of Linksunten Indymedia, plus info on all-important prisoner support, can be found here.

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5. Anarchy in London

One of the annual highlights of the anarchist calendar takes place in London on Saturday October 28 in the shape of the Anarchist Bookfair.

The 2017 event will see a return appearance for Winter Oak after a brief absence. We will have a stall somewhere at the venue and two speakers are lined up.

Ed Lord will be talking on Modern Madness: Mental Health, Modernity and Environmental Destruction. The anarchist author, researcher and mental health nurse discusses his recent book Modern Madness: A Wild Schizoanalysis of Mental Distress in the Spaces of Modernity published by Winter Oak. The book presents a radical critique of the modern world and the pandemic levels of mental illness we find there. Drawing on experience of mental health services and environmental activism, Ed asks the question “What if mental distress is considered as much a matter of geography as it is of personal pathology?” Followed by a discussion.

And Paul Cudenec will be talking about and reading from The Green One, which we published this summer. This book presents, in mythopoetic style, a gender-transcending archetype of natural vitality and rightness which has been present throughout the history of human culture, constantly taking on new forms to reflect the needs of each era. The Green One is Mother Earth, the Green Man, Osiris, Khidr, Robin Hood, Joan of Arc, the Luddites and authentic anarchism… Followed by discussion.

Times of the meetings have not been finalised yet, but as ever there are plenty of interesting sessions being lined up, such as:

  • Feminism and Self-Defence: Experiences of the Kurdish women’s struggles with Dilar Dirik.
  • A real revolution is a mass of contradictions: Reports from Rojava 2017 with Peter Loo and Sarah Patton of Plan C.
  • The Russian Revolution from Below – discussion opened by Simon Pirani, author of The Russian Revolution in Retreat.
  • My Buddha is Punk – a film screening and Q&A with the director Andreas Hartmann.
  • Dismantling the Prison Industrial Complex with Empty Cages Collective.
  • Does Chomsky matter? Milan Rai and Chris Knight debate Noam Chomsky’s relevance to anarchist theory and practice today.
  • Occupy, Organise … an introduction – with the Advisory Service for Squatters.
  • What it means to be libertarian, with Iain McKay, author of “An Anarchist FAQ”.
  • Zapatistas: Critical Thinking Against Capitalism, with the UK Zapatista Solidarity Network.
  • Carne Ross, Accidental Anarchist – film, followed by discussion with Carne Ross, Class War activist Lisa Mckenzie and anarchist/anthropologist David Graeber.
  • Bakunin and the International Workers’ Association, organised by Merlin Press.
  • Brian Morris on Deep Ecology and Anarchism – one of two book launches for Freedom Press.
  • Three different meetings on spy cops, from Campaign Opposing Police Surveillance (COPS), Undercover Research Group and, providing a historical perspective, from John Quail, author of Police Spies Then and Now.
  • How to fight your landlord by Brighton Solfed.
  • Intro to Earth First! With Earth First! UK, whose week-long annual gathering is the only anarchist camp in the UK, run according to anarchist organisational methods.
  • Land Rights. 69% of land in the UK is owned by 0.6% of the population, stolen many generations ago by deception and force. There are calls for a Day of Action in the UK next year.
  • Taking it to the streets – the politics of Class Solidarity with Liza McKenzie and Martin Lux.
  • Welcome to the anarchist future with the Anarchist Federation. “We are lucky to have some visitors from a future anarchist society, who will welcome you and explain how their world works”.

The event is being held on Saturday October 28 from 10am to 7pm at Park View School
West Green Road, London, N15 3QR. Seven Sisters tube station.

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6. Blocking the arms fair

Monday’s blockade

A week of action is underway in a bid to block the setting-up of one of the world’s biggest arms fairs in London.

The DSEI event has been dealing in death in the UK capital every two years since 1999 and campaigners are keen to stop it reaching its 20th birthday.

The  blockade got off to a good start on Monday September 4 with a day themed around “Stop Arming Israel”. Palestinian dancing and football matches blocked the road used by lorries bringing in equipment.

There were eight arrests as cops tried to clear a path for the warmongering profiteers, but the blockade forced the deathmongering DSEI organisers to try and sneak in their weapons through the back entrance.

Blocking the DSEI set-up on Monday September 4

On Tuesday morning, September 5, the “No Faith in War” actions saw a two-hour lock-on and reports of four arrests, including at least one Quaker.

In the run-up to DSEI, a broadside of in-depth articles was published online, exposing the arms fair, the industry’s revolving-doors relationship with government and the appalling human rights record of regimes that will be going shopping in the London Docklands, such as Saudi ArabiaIsraelTurkey and Indonesia. The investigative articles also look at DSEI’s role as a supermarket for state surveillance and border wars and at connections to animal rights abuses.

Said Andrew Smith of Campaign Against Arms Trade: “DSEI will bring many of the world’s most appalling regimes together with the biggest arms companies.

“Right now UK fighter jets and bombs are playing a central role in the destruction of Yemen; what will be the next atrocity they are used in? War, repression and injustice are fuelled by events like DSEI. It’s time to shut it down for good.”

The blocking of the set-up culminates in a big day of action on Saturday September 9.

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7. Acorninfo

Environmental activists have been battling to protect the last primeval forest in Europe from commercial logging. They have chained themselves to trees and blocked felling machines in Poland’s Bialowieza Forest. This is a UNESCO World Heritage site where the habitat of the European bison, lynx and rare birds is at threat from the government-approved destruction. Follow Camp for the Forest on Twitter via @DlaPuszczy

* * *

A nasty road scheme has returned to threaten massive destruction in the last remaining block of ancient woodland on the coastal plain of Southern England. Plans for the A27 are targeting Binsted Woods, Arundel, home to a successful anti-road camp in 2003. Said West Sussex campaign group Protect Our Woodlands: “We fail to understand how anyone could support the wanton destruction that would occur in Binsted woods, or any of the Arundel A27 options Highways England (HE) has put forward. Clearly their only purpose is to create even more road space for through traffic to fill again.”

* * *

Strikes and protests will be held all across France on Tuesday September 12 against the latest labour “reforms” being imposed on the country by neoliberal President Macron, a so-called “centrist” already deeply unpopular with the public after being elected in May. Meanwhile, the day of mobilisation against the French police state featured in Acorn 35 has been moved to Saturday October 7.

* * *

The latest volume of Return Fire magazine is now available online and features a look at Ed Lord’s book Modern Madness (see above), an article on the impact of robotics, reports of direct action against industrial capitalist infrastructure and much more.

* * *

A new English-language blog has been launched from the ZAD at Notre-Dame-des-Landes. Zad for ever is subtitled  “Dispatches from the Liberated Territory Against an Airport & its World”, which nicely sets the context. It states: “The zad’s greatest strength is its radical diversity. This blog represents just some of the multitude of visions of the zone and its forms of life.”

* * *

A monument to the great German-Jewish anarchist Gustav Landauer has been unveiled in the Waldfriedhof, Munich. After he was murdered by proto-fascist soldiers in 1919, even Landauer’s grave was destroyed by the Nazis when they came to power in 1933.

* * *

More great news from the front line of Progress – an American firm has started implanting its employees with microchips which allow them to open doors, use computers or buy snacks. Todd Westby, CEO of Three Square Market, a technology firm in Wisconsin, said: “It’s the next thing that’s inevitably going to happen, and we want to be a part of it. Eventually, this technology will become standardised allowing you to use this as your passport, public transit, all purchasing opportunities.” We can’t wait.

* * *

A protest march in support of the UK’s “death sentence” prisoners is to be held in Manchester on Saturday September 16. As we reported in Acorn 32, some 4,000 people are serving IPP (Imprisonment for Public Protection)  sentences in British prisons even though these were legally abolished five years ago. These victims of blatant injustice still languish in jails with no release dates and soaring suicide rates. The protest will start at 12:30 sharp at 12 Minshull St, Manchester M1 3FR (Probation Office).

* * *

Acorn quote: “The modern West cannot tolerate that people should prefer to work less and be content to live on little; as it is only quantity that counts, and as everything that escapes the senses is held to be non-existent, it is taken for granted that anyone who is not in a state of agitation and who does not produce much in a material way must be ‘lazy’”.

René Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World

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

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The Acorn – 16

acornmastheadnew

Number 16


In this issue:

  1. “The system has got to be destroyed”
  2. Resisting the prison industrial complex
  3. London Anarchist Bookfair 2015
  4. Erdogan’s dirty war against the Kurds
  5. Paint-daubing, egg-throwing and shirt-ripping!
  6. Acorninfo

1. “The system has got to be destroyed”

nantes protest2
Anti-industrial protesters in Nantes

“The most basic task ahead of us is to bring as many people as possible together around the conviction that the system has got to be destroyed”.

These words from an article called Where Are We Now? (¿Dónde Estamos? or Où en sommes-nous?) by Miguel Amorós remain as true today as when they were written some 15 years ago.

December’s Cop21 climate summit in Paris presents an excellent opportunity to vastly expand the numbers of people committed to the destruction of capitalism.

As we have already reported in The Acorn, the protests against this smug neoliberal showcase are bound to go a lot further than the A to B parades typical of mainstream UK “climate” campaigning.

There is a new spirit of defiance in the European anti-capitalist and radical degrowth movement, with rebels from ZAD autonomous zones all over France heading for the capital, Climate Games being advertised (see this video) and the international call-out (see below) talking of “an end to capitalism and productivism”.

nantes protests
Protests in Nantes

It is now a year since the death of young eco-activist Rémi Fraisse at the hands of the French gendarmes on October 26 2014. Given the feisty nature of radical environmental protests both before and after his murder by the French state – in Nantes, Toulouse and elsewhere (see Acorn 3) – the French cops are going to very busy between November 28 and December 12. Indeed, French corporate media are already reporting that police are braced for a “Black Bloc” assault on the capitalist summit.

If there is anyone out there who still thinks of the menace of industrialism as an environmental side-show to the main class struggle against capitalism, they would do well to consider Amorós’s article.

He writes: “Technology is an instrument and a weapon because it benefits those who know best how to use it and how to be used by it. The bourgeoisie have used machines and the ‘scientific’ organisation of work against the proletariat. No revolt against domination can really represent the general interest unless it turns itself into a rebellion against technology, a Luddite revolt”.

luddites
Luddites in action

Amorós muses on the disastrous own-goal scored by the 19th century anti-capitalist movement when it decided that industrial development offered the best route to liberation.

He writes: “Contrary to what Marx and Engels claim, the workers’ movement condemned itself to political and social immaturity when it abandoned Utopian socialism and chose science and progress (bourgeois science and bourgeois progress) instead of community and individual flowering”.

And it is no coincidence that Amorós’s text takes its name, and its opening quote, from the great 19th century English green-anarcho-socialist William Morris.

William Morris
William Morris – a passionate opponent of industrial capitalism

Morris wrote in his own Where Are We Now?: “What was it which we set out to accomplish? To change the system of society on which the stupendous fabric of civilisation is founded, and which has been built up by centuries of conflict with older and dying systems, and crowned by the victory of modern civilisation over the material surroundings of life.

“The shouts of triumph over the glories of civilisation which once drowned the moans of the miserable have now sunk into quavering apologies for the existence of the horrors and fatuities of our system; a system which is only defended as a thing to be endured for lack of a better, and until we can find some means of packing it off into limbo”.

cop21 call-out

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2. Resisting the prison industrial complex

prison week

Nothing better sums up the capitalist world than its prison system – where brutal oppression and cynical private profiteering combine to such lucrative effect.

Because fear of crime is one of the core anxieties instilled in the population to keep them obedient, few raise their voices in support of the victims of the prison industrial complex.

The week of action being organised from November 2 to 8 against the massive new jail being built in North Wales is therefore especially important.

Says the call-out: “A week of action has been called to encourage people of the UK & the world to take action against the construction of the North Wales Prison in Wrexham.

northwalesprison
The planned mega-prison

“The prison will be the second largest prison in Europe, holding more than 2,100 people and costing £250 million to build. Australian contractor Lend Lease was awarded the contract to build the Wrexham titan prison by the government in May 2014.

“Local people have resisted the prison for over half a decade; objecting to planning applications, lobbying, going to meetings. Full planning permission was eventually granted in November 2014 despite local resistance. It is now a construction site and this place of abuse and oppression is being built as we speak.

“Our aims are to resist it, slow it down and send a message to the state and the prison industry that it is not acceptable to profit from caging human beings. The Government wish to build more prisons in the UK, this is our opportunity to intervene and prevent this industry from expanding. We must take the offensive against prison expansion and the social control of our lives. We are fighting until all are free”.

emptycageslogo

During the week there will be demonstrations at the prison and also against its suppliers – collaborators in crime. Find your local prison profiteer at: www.cape-campaign.org/prison-profiteers

Solidarity demos at other prisons across the UK are also planned, along with information nights, workshops and film showings to ignite more resistance to the prison industrial complex.

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3. London Anarchist Bookfair

londonanarchistbookfair2

The 2015 London Anarchist Bookfair is being staged on Saturday October 24, from 10am to 7pm, and there is wealth of interesting workshops on offer, on top of all the stalls – and the socialising opportunities!

It’s at a new venue this year – Central Saint Martin’s, University of the Arts London, Granary Building, 1 Granary Square, London N1C 4AA. This is a huge building behind Kings Cross station – a lot easier to get to than Mile End.

The full list of workshops can be found on the bookfair website, but we’d thought we’d pick out a few that appeal to us.

Of particular relevance to this edition of The Acorn is a talk called “Red Lines in Paris: mobilising for the UN climate talks this December” from Reclaim the Power, which asks: “How can we use the international mobilisation in Paris to popularise the use of direct action against polluter interests and to strengthen our movements for climate justice back home?”

reclaimthepower 

Corporate Watch are leading an important session discussing ways forward for the anti-capitalist, anti-authoritarian climate movement in the UK. They say: “Much of the climate/environmental movement lacks a serious political analysis, and at the same time anarchists can have a blind spot about climate change and ecological crises, sometimes adopting a misanthropic or fatalist attitude. This workshop will explore ways to communicate and organise around climate change that place it as an important part of the struggles against capitalism and other systems of oppression”.

Earth First! will also be holding a workshop, encouraging people to become more involved in exciting direct action projects planned for coming months or to set up their own local group.

earthfirst

One of many other highlights promises to be a session on Women and Armed Struggle, which declares: “From bomb throwing suffragettes to Female Urban Guerrillas to the thousands of Women who participate in the Armed Struggle of the Zapatistas and the Kurds, there is a rich history of Women’s Armed Struggle. But much of this history is forgotten or deliberately ignored by Liberal Feminists who wish to ‘clean up’ our history.”

zapatista-women
Zapatista women

It’s good to see a healthy emphasis on the core philosophy behind the event, with an illustrated talk by Kevin Eady on the history and theory of the anarchist movement and Iain McKay (author of An Anarchist FAQ) exploding some of the common myths about anarchism and anarchists.

Kurdistan features prominently this year, as you might expect, with one workshop on The Rojava Revolution and another, from Corporate Watch, focusing on how to build effective solidarity with Kurdistan.

There are also two different workshops on current developments in Greece and two on Cuba.

The Undercover Research Group will introduce its work on mapping out the activities of the British state’s undercover units, those responsible and the networks between them, while the Radical Anthropology Group will be hosting a session on primitive communism: “We evolved under egalitarianism, not class despotism”.

There are also workshops on Militant Anti-Fascism, Art and Anarchism, No Borders Morocco and on social centres and co-ops – among many others!

Winter Oak titles are available via our friends at Active Distribution, who will, as ever, have a stall at the bookfair.

active stall
An Active Distribution stall

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4. Erdogan’s dirty war against the Kurds

The appalling bomb attack in Ankara on October 10 has helped focus more attention on the deeply unpleasant nature of the Turkish state (see Acorn 12).

Although corporate media shy away from criticising a key NATO ally, an understanding is spreading that the Erdogan regime is heavily implicated in so-called ISIS terrorism, with the re-emergence of a “deep state” linked both to mafia figures like Sedat Peker and to right-wing terrorist groups.

Right-wing mafia boss Sedat Peker
Right-wing mafia boss Sedat Peker

A useful analysis of the situation is provided in an article from the French-language journal CQFD on The Turkish State’s Dirty War Against the Kurdish Movement, which describes how the regime pays only lip service to opposing ISIS.

“In fact, since July 20, the exclusive targets of repression by the Turkish authorities are the PKK and the Kurdish population in the south-east of the country, the pro-Kurdish and far-left legal opposition movements and certain media outlets and social networks which have been subject to censorship.

Rojava

“The ‘double or quits’ poker gamble that Erdogan is making has two aims – on the one hand to halt the Kurdish moves towards autonomy bolstered by the system in Rojava (where YPG and YPJ guerrillas are the only ground resistance to ISIS) and, on the other hand, to counter opposition from the HDP, a pro-Kurdish party which won 13% of the vote in the last legislative elections and which got in the way of  the Turkish president’s autocratic drift by costing him his absolute majority.

“After the elections in June, Erdogan decided, without the prior consent of parliament, to rerun the vote. By provoking confrontations and by tarring the PKK with the same ‘terrorist’ brush as ISIS, he is hoping for a nationalistic reaction that will lead to him regaining his absolute majority in November’s elections. For Engin Sustam the desire to ‘divide and rule’ is obvious – ‘The AKP offensive against the Kurds is a way of polarising Turkish society in order to try and prop up the crumbling power of the nationalistic and authoritarian state’. ”

The “strategy of tension” has long been a favourite ploy of states to reassert their authority by means of covert state terrorism. Observers may well wonder if the Ankara bombing of 2015 will prove to come from the same textbook as the Bologna bombing of 1980, now widely believed to have been carried out by a NATO state with close links to the mafia and fascist terrorists.

bologna
Bologna in 1980

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5. Paint-daubing, egg-throwing and shirt-ripping!

fuck parade
Class War in Shoreditch, East London

A spirit of lively physical resistance seems to have been reborn of late, which augurs well for the months and years to come.

Class War’s anti-gentrification Fuck Parade in Shoreditch managed to grab national and even international headlines when participants dared to daub paint on the outside of a hipster “cereal cafe” – unleashing a great vomiting of self-righteous hypocritical outrage from London’s smuggest.

In case anyone missed it, there are videos here, here and here.

Protests against the Conservative party conference in Manchester also proved lively, with the stand-out moment being the dead-eyed egging of a ridiculously pompous young Tory (video here).

tory egged

An excellent round-up of all the action in the Salford Star concludes: “Most people on the protests who the Salford Star spoke to were furious that the Tories had dared to come to Manchester, one of the cities most hard hit by Government attacks on people who have the least.

“As delegates filed out of the Conference Centre for the final time yesterday, they were pointed in the direction of the city’s must-see food banks and homeless camps, as they were serenaded to the tune of the Ugly Duckling… `Oink Oink! Get out!… Oink Oink! Get out of town!’…”

manchester pigmask

The French have been getting in on the physical comedy protest-genre as well, with angry trade unionists literally ripping the shirt from the back of an Air France executive announcing job losses (video here).

air france
An Air France executive, deprived of his shirt

Back in London, the next excitement may well come on Thursday November 5, with the Million Mask March gathering in Trafalgar Square from 6pm. “We call to arms our many brothers and sisters. The war crimes can no longer go unnoticed, the people can no longer pay the price of the corrupt politicians, the bankers can no longer profit, the bloodshed must stop… Liberty must be reinstated”.

Similar events are planned internationally.

million mask march

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6. Acorninfo

Authorities in Western Australia are clearing the way for a motorway to be driven across an Aboriginal heritage site that is “older than the pyramids”. The sacred area between Bibra and North lakes – in Noongar culture the birthplace of the creation spirit Waugyl –  has been removed from the Aboriginal heritage register because it inconveniently stands in the way of the proposed Roe 8 freeway extension, scheduled to be built next year as part of the first leg of the $1.6m Perth Freight Link.

bibra protest
A protest against Roe 8

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A warning against US imperialism targeting Africa, via its military organisation Africom, has been issued by the Pan African Alliance. It says: “Instead of helping Africa, the United States is currently engaged in secret missions to keep African Nations destabilized. Uganda, Somalia, Sudan, Nigeria, and Mali are primed to be the sites of the next major genocides. For 400 years, our ancestral homeland has been bled dry, and with the rise of China as a new colonial competitor, things are about to get much worse for our people and our motherland.”

africomgraphic

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Four people were killed in massive protests against a mining project at Las Bambas in the Apurímac region of Peru at the end of September. Troops were sent to the area to put down popular opposition to industrial capitalist destruction and a state of emergency was declared. The blood-stained $10 billion project will involve the extraction of 400,000 tons of copper every year.

peru mine
The huge protests against copper mining

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George Orwell’s nightmare is coming true in the town of Saint Denis in Réunion, a French overseas department in the Indian Ocean. Not only are there CCTV cameras to spy on people in the streets, but they are now also being equipped with loudspeakers to bark orders at those being monitored.

cctv speakers
CCTV loudspeakers are installed

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Resistance continues against the destruction of the Hambach Forest in Germany by lignite mining. There have been numerous arrests as activists block access roads and sabotage work. On October 8 the local police station was sprayed with paint and shit in protest at heavy-handed repression. For latest info see the blog at http://hambachforest.blogsport.de/

hambacher

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Sussex Anarchists are hosting a talk by anarchist writer Scott Crow on Sunday October 25, from 7.30pm at The Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton. It is part of a UK/Ireland tour presenting the new book Black Flags and Windmills, from PM Press. Sussex Anarchists, which are part of the Anarchist Action Network, can be followed on Twitter via @sussexanarchist. The author is also talking at Freedom Bookshop in London (Oct 21), Hydra Bookstore, Bristol (Oct 22), Sumac Centre, Nottingham (Oct 23), the London Anarchist Bookfair (Oct 24), CCEA, Derry (Oct 24), Wharf Street Chambers, Leeds (Oct 26), Loughborough University (Oct 27), The Annexe Cafe, Glasgow (Oct 28) and the Independent Radical Book Fair, Edinburgh (Oct 28).

Black Flags book

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A new activist website has been launched for southern France – Marseille Infos Autonomes features local and global news and analysis. The site is at http://mars-infos.org/

mars-info

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Only degrowth – the abandonment of industrial capitalism – can be a credible answer to Europe’s current refugee situation, argues Dennis Eversberg of the Research Group on Post-Growth Societies at the Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena. He writes on the degrowth.de site: “The knowledge that European lifestyles cannot be made available to everyone logically implies that people will have to be repelled at Europe’s borders and sent back to poverty and war – unless we accept that it is our own societies that cannot go on with business as usual”.

refugee sign

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airportqueues

Acorn quote: “Let us consider things for a moment from the standpoint of those whose ideal is material ‘welfare’, and who therefore rejoice at all the improvements to life furnished by modern ‘progress’; are they quite sure they are not being duped? Is it true that, because they dispose of swifter means of communication and other things of the kind, and because of their more agitated and complicated manner of life, men are happier today than they were formerly? The very opposite seems to us to be true: disequilibrium cannot be a condition of real happiness. Moreover, the more needs has, the greater the likelihood that he will lack something, and thereby be unhappy; modern civilization aims at creating more and more artificial needs, and as we have already said, it will always create more needs than it can satisfy, for once one has started on this path, it is very hard to stop…”.

René Guénon, The Crisis of the Modern World

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

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