The Acorn – 38

acornmastheadnew1

Number 38


In this issue:

  1. “Chimps” swing into action
  2. Defend the living!
  3. Fighting the cancer of economic growth
  4. D for defiance in struggle against arms trade
  5. Protecting the planet is not a crime
  6. Sabotaging the subversives
  7. Acorninfo

1. “Chimps” swing into action

The primate resistance movement has struck out against those who want to destroy our planet and replace us with robots.

A group of French activists swung into action on Monday November 20, at the start of a conference in the south-western city of Bordeaux which was celebrating the “cyborg future” of humankind.

They made their move under the label of the Bordeaux Chimpanzees of the Future, referring to the infamous comment by UK transhumanist techno-guru Kevin Warwick that, in a tomorrow’s world peopled by AI-enhanced cyborg hybrids, actual living human beings like you and me would be regarded as nothing more than evolutionary remnants. We would be the “chimpanzees of the future” as he arrogantly put it.

In keeping with their primate identity, the activists scattered banana skins around the conference venue, as well as a leaflet explaining why they were there.

This pointed out that Bordeaux had just seen the arrival of a branch of the Singularity University, “a propaganda tool of the techno-totalitarianism founded by Ray Kurzweil (top transhumanist at Google), under whose patronage the conference is being held”.

Conference publicity

And it declared: “We don’t function, we live. We weren’t built, but born. We refuse to be ‘customised into cyborgs’. We refuse to ‘get ready to change planet’. We want to live on earth and remain free and human”.

The transhumanist cult represents the worst excesses of industrial-capitalist fantasy, dreaming of a humanity with artificial bodies and replaceable parts whose brains will eventually be uploaded into computers, giving them unimagined mental powers.

Not so long ago, this strange vision was regarded as little more than a weird joke, but it has increasingly become the religion of the technological avant-garde and has even succeeded in contaminating some so-called “anti-capitalist” thinking with its ultra-capitalist creed.

The transhumanists’ dream is a nightmare not just for human beings but for the living planet as a whole, as it depends on ongoing industrialisation and all the environmental destruction that this brings with it – a harsh fact that transhumanists try to avoid.

Transhumanist Kevin Warwick

As Paul Cudenec writes in Nature, Essence and Anarchy: “On the most basic level, the industrialist vision of a technological posthuman future is entirely divorced from the physical realities of industrialism. Even if post-natural posthumans managed to upload their minds (or, rather, soulless copies of their brains) into a virtual realm of their own construction, the objective reality of the world they thought they were escaping would not somehow cease to exist.

“Pollution would worsen as the technological world expanded, animals would suffer from its consequences, the food chain would be imperilled, the very life-system of the earth would be at risk. Their technological bubble would still be dependent on an outside reality and infrastructure.

“There would still have to be mines to extract the minerals to build the computers, oil and gas wells to provide the energy, waste to be disposed of, pipelines and cables to be laid and repaired, flood defences to be built or strengthened as the climate span further into extremities, cooling systems to be installed for the huge banks of computer servers, bolts to be tightened, cogs to be lubricated, mould to be wiped off walls, and so on ad nauseam.

“Even if all the hard labour was done by machines and there were further machines to repair those machines, who would repair these? Who would be doing all the dirty work, wiping the metaphorical bottoms of the immortal posthuman narcissists plugged into their ego-massaging virtual existences?

“A race of ‘chimpanzee’ slaves maybe, the left-over essentialist scum who had refused to jump on the naturaphobic bandwagon to oblivion?”

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2. Defend the living!

A poignant short film celebrating the UK road protests of the early 1990s can now be seen online.

I Am Alive by Tom Lloyd, Gill Barron and Mark Melville combines archive footage shot over the summer of 1994 from roof-tops and tree-tops with a poetic voice-over and haunting soundtrack evoking the beauty in finding the courage to defend life.

And it reminds us that although particular battles of the time, such as at Solsbury Hill or Wanstead, were lost to the forces of industrialism, a generation’s war on roads was won, with the UK government putting new schemes on hold for decades in the face of the inspiring resistance.

The effort, the trauma, the arrests and the convictions will all be vindicated by history, as will one day all the current struggles against fracking, pipelines, mines, airports, high speed rail lines and all the other assaults on Mother Earth.

As the film says: “Land isn’t a commodity: it doesn’t belong to us. It’s a community: we belong to it.

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.”

Expect resistance. As long as we are alive.

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3. Fighting the cancer of economic growth

The so-called “need” for economic growth is the perfect excuse for the industrial capitalist system to keep expanding, exploiting and exterminating, so arguments for “degrowth” have a massive radical potential.

The movement is little known in the UK, but is becoming increasingly influential elsewhere. For instance, next summer sees the 6th International Degrowth Conference in Malmö, Sweden. It will take place from August 21-25 2018 and is organised by the Institute for Degrowth Studies (Institutet för nerväxtstudier). There is a call for participation for academics, activists and artists (deadline: December 31).

Across the Atlantic, the first North-South Conference on Degrowth will be held in Mexico City from June 19 – 21 2018, supported by universities, NGOs, and social movements.

This is the first time a Latin American country will host an international gathering on Degrowth, after five conferences in Europe and one in Canada. Decolonisation of the imaginary, survival,  cultures, and wealth will be the main issues under discussion.

Degrowth ideas are also sneaking into mainstream European thinking. From September 18-19 2018 a post-growth conference supported by various “stakeholders” (Members of the European Parliament from different political groups, academics, NGOs and unions) will take place in the premises of the European Parliament in Brussels. The date coincides with the 10th anniversary of the collapse of the US Bank Lehman Brothers that sparked the “economic crisis” justifying the intensification of neoliberal economics.

The work will be preceded by a preparatory session at the Université Libre de Bruxelles and followed by a debriefing and exchanges on how to coalesce allies to ensure that change will actually happen.

There is lots of English-language information on degrowth on the German website, degrowth.info.

Explaining the basic idea, it states: “By ‘degrowth’, we understand a form of society and economy which aims at the well-being of all and sustains the natural basis of life. To achieve degrowth, we need a fundamental transformation of our lives and an extensive cultural change.

“The current economic and social paradigm is ‘faster, higher, further’. It is built on and stimulates competition between all humans. This causes acceleration, stress and exclusion. Our economy destroys the natural basis of life. We are convinced that the common values of a degrowth society should be care, solidarity and cooperation.

“Humanity has to understand itself as part of the planetary ecological system. Only this way, a self-determined life in dignity for all can be made possible”.

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4. D for defiance in struggle against arms trade

A woman convicted of disrupting an arms fair in Wales has defiantly stood by her actions.

D told the court in Cardiff: “My motivation that day was to stop the arms fair. I am not denying it – what I am saying is that I was trying to prevent something worse from happening.”

She was found guilty by the court of making hoax calls claiming there was a bomb at the Motorpoint Arena, which was hosting the Defence Procurement, Research, Technology and Exportability event, better known as Cardiff Arms Fair.

D was expecting to go to prison, but in fact received a suspended sentence and an order to pay £2000 costs and £115 “victim surcharge”.

She declared afterwards: “I said when I was first arrested that it was the arms dealers who should have been arrested in my stead, and I still believe it’s the arms dealers and the UK Government who should have been in the dock on trial for their complicity in war crimes.

“My resolve in opposing the arms trade has only been strengthened by this experience and I hope to see a huge protest outside next year’s DPRTE Arms Fair at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff.”

Said a report from Bristol Defendant Solidarity: “It was very inspiring to hear the defendant, D, clearly tell the judge and the jury that she was not sorry for her actions and that she remains committed to direct action against war and the arms industry.

“Her explanation of how she could not stand by while arms dealers furthered their profits by marketing mass murder was very powerful. She admitted making the calls, but argued that she was acting to prevent a greater crime by aiming to stop the selling of arms used for ‘mass indiscriminate killing of civilians’.

“Her moving account of witnessing first-hand the destruction wreaked by these weapons in Palestine and her motivations for doing all that she can to stop arms sales brought tears to many eyes. She told the court of her experiences driving an ambulance of medical supplies to Gaza after the Israeli bombing.

“’I saw kids my grandchildren’s age being teargassed on a daily basis’ she said. ‘I saw with my own eyes the aftermath of war. Standing in the wreckage of bombed out homes, schools and hospitals brought home to me the utter destruction war wreaks on people’s lives. That strengthened my resolve to do everything in my power to oppose this awful trade’.”

Israeli police teargas Palestinians

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5. Protecting the planet is not a crime

Brutal physical violence and insidious legal intimidation are being used by UK police to try and crush resistance to the fracking industry.

This is the stark conclusion of a new report from police monitoring group Netpol, called Protecting the Planet is Not a Crime. Its research confirms and usefully exposes the extent to which the police act as taxpayer-funded private security for  private business interests – in this case oil and gas.

It says: “Over the course of 2017, Netpol has seen evidence, particularly from Lancashire, of police officers pushing people into hedges, knocking campaigners unconscious, violently dragging older people across the road and shoving others into speeding traffic.

“We had also heard about the targeting of disabled protesters (including repeatedly tipping a wheelchair user from his chair) and officers using painful pressure point restraint techniques. In Lancashire, campaigners have repeatedly accused the police of ignoring violent and unlawful actions by private security employed by the shale gas company Cuadrilla. Similar allegations are now emerging in North Yorkshire.

“These confrontational and aggressive tactics are combined with often significant numbers of officers who seem, based on the testimony we have heard, ready to contain, assault or arrest any demonstrator for the slightest infringement.

“Police tactics appear deliberately intent on making it as difficult as possible for local people to effectively oppose the activities of the onshore oil and gas industry. There have also been claims that officers have tried to deliberately provoke the protesters in order to make more arrests.”

Netpol also draw attention to the civil injunction taken out against protesters by shale gas company INEOS.

The firm says it was advised to do this by the police – again showing that the cops are not “neutral” upholders of the peace, but active participants in imposing the toxic industrial capitalist agenda.

The order is directed against “persons unknown” and prohibits them from interfering with the “lawful activities” of INEOS staff and contractors. People who breach the order risk prison or having their assets seized.

The injunction refers to a range of “unlawful activity” that is not necessarily a criminal offence. Specifically, it mentions “slow walking” of lorries, which is not inherently unlawful unless it involves unreasonable obstruction without lawful authority or excuse.

Say Netpol: “Our concern is that, if INEOS’ injunction is made permanent, it not only opens in further pre-emptive injunctions by other fracking companies based on widespread smearing of all anti-fracking campaigners as ‘militant extremists’. It may also significantly restrict even further the ability of campaigners to take part in civil disobedience or, indeed, any form of effective protest”.

* In the early hours of Thursday November 30, frack-free activists occupied the so-called “Gatwick Gusher” oil site at Horse Hill in Surrey. The site, operated by Horse Hill Developments Ltd, has received planning permission for a further two wells and testing, reports Drill or Drop.

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6. Sabotaging the subversives

Imagine, if you can, that you are the chief of the secret political police in some far-off and fictional dictatorship.

Your networks have succeeded in completely infiltrating the small groups of dissidents who dare challenge the corruption and repression of the ruling elite.

True, there has been a spot of bother with one group of trouble-makers who rumbled a couple of clumsy low-level spies and have been exposing their dubious methods.

But overall, this has changed nothing. Indeed, the paranoia created by the spy revelations has even helped your task, instilling a mood of back-biting suspicion in dissident ranks and paralysing many would-be revolutionaries into inaction with the spectre of past or present spies in their ranks.

You have your enemies pretty much where you want them. You know exactly who they are and what they are going to do next. Your infiltrators, on many levels, have successfully shunted dissident networks away from effective opposition to the system into ineffective and dead-end ways of thinking and acting.

Dissidents whose words and deeds pose a real threat to the dictatorship are systematically marginalised and excluded from a movement which is largely under your control.

And yet, despite all this dominance, you are tempted to take it a step further. You can see that, with just a little provocation and encouragement, certain political disagreements within the opposition movement could be heightened to the point at which there was a major rupture in the dissident ranks which could even close down one of their most successful organising focal points.

In doing so, you could even take a passing swipe at one of those pesky troublemakers who has been giving you grief over your spies.

Would you do it, if you were this imaginary spy chief? Would you deliberately sabotage the dissident milieu you are paid to suppress, evil genius that you are?

While you’re thinking about it, let’s turn to some completely different events which have unfolded in the non-fictional world of 21st century Britain.

As readers may well be aware, the annual London Anarchist Bookfair in October was disrupted by a nasty row between some feminists and some others who accused them of transphobia.

We won’t pass judgement on the details of the dispute itself: an ill-judged leaflet matched by an ill-judged physical response.

But what was truly alarming was the vitriolic nature and tone of the accusations against the bookfair organisers who have done such a great job with the event over the years.

In an open letter stating their case, these critics accused the organisers of allowing “racist imperialism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia, misogyny and ableism to ingratiate themselves as part of the culture of the Bookfair”.

Eh? Where did that come from? What imperialism? What anti-semitism? What Islamophobia? What misogyny? No indication is given as to what any of this refers to – the insults are just vomited forth without any context.

The authors declare that unless certain demands are met, they will not be participating in future bookfairs, which is of course their right.

But, incredibly, they add: “Further, we will encourage our members and associated groups to picket the LABF in the future and provide material to those attending about the problems we have identified and the demands we are making”.

Are there really anarchists out there who would picket the anarchist bookfair on the basis of this kind of disagreement?

This open letter was supported by many comrades who we would have thought would have known better, pretty much obliging the bookfair collective to announce that they would not be organising an event in 2018.

They say in their own statement: “What hurts us most is we know a lot of you. A number of the signatories to the open letter are groups we know and have worked with over the years; sometimes many, many years.

“Yet not one of you has tried to contact us as individuals or as the Bookfair collective to ask our views before you signed the open letter, even though some people appear not to have read all of it before signing. We thought of many of you as friends. We were obviously wrong.

“We guess it’s easy to sign a statement. It’s a lot harder to actually talk to people and try to work things out.

“We are also tired of being told what to do. We are told to ban people. We are told have this or that policy. We are told this or that group can/can’t have stalls. We are told we shouldn’t have a certain venue. We are constantly told we get it wrong. However, no one has offered to join the Collective and help us make the Bookfair better or offered to take it on”.

Actual fascists

They also reveal that (with sickening inevitability) they were accused of being “fascists” by some so-called comrades on the day (as were, apparently, both sides in the quarrel).

They comment: “It seriously concerns us how easy this terminology is thrown about in the anarchist milieu. Survivors of the Spanish Civil war, survivors of the death camps, political activists in Pinochet’s Chile, activists in parts of the world today and many others who have been at the blunt end of actual fascism are done a disservice by this indiscriminate use of the word.

“We feel that the Bookfair is not the place for tactics used on demos against fascist groups and cops. Some of us are traumatised enough by activism and look forward to enjoying an event where we can see friends and exchange ideas without the pressure of these actions”.

And there have been other voices challenging the basis of the vitriolic attack on the bookfair by the open letter authors.

Some “friends of the Bookfair”, for instance, posted a response in which they point out that the demands in the letter amount essentially to a call for tight ideological control over the content of the bookfair – something which should set the alarm bells ringing for any remaining authentic anarchists out there.

The “friends” say: “The Bookfair Collective operates on the principle that it is not for the small collective that organises it to take on defining and enforcing a rigid policy on safety and behaviour; it is for the wider movement that takes part in the Bookfair to do so, along anarchist principles of opposing centralized authority with dispersed and grassroots responsibility.

“Points raised in the open letter call for a radically different event, with a much more centralized program, organized or tightly overseen by the collective.”

“Yes” to central ideological control, comrades!

Another anarchist response on the 325 website reflects on “the harassment and public shaming of an individual simply because they’d dared deviate from the party line; the line being that there is to be no doubt and certainly no criticism of any of the dominant narratives around identity politics”.

It adds: “We are not in any way surprised that liberal activists would seize on the opportunity to jump on the bandwagon, slag off anarchists, signal virtue with their impeccable ‘Ally’ credentials, and try to sabotage a major anarchist event for good.

“Neither are we surprised that people we disagree with or whose views are offensive would turn up at the Bookfair; some such groups in fact, sometimes have tables and workshop slots and their own supporters.

“We also recognise why trans people and other anarchists present would be pissed off with the leaflets, which the authors and distributors must have known were offensive and would provoke a reaction.

“What we’re angry at is our fellow anarchists, who we hold to higher standards, and it’s on this that we want to concentrate. We’re disappointed at the abandonment yet again of anarchist principles of independent and critical thought in favour of groupthink.

“We’re angry at the willingness to sacrifice plurality of ideas for policing and self-censorship. And we’re saddened at the failure to balance our antagonism with a corresponding care and comradeship, so that bullying and public humiliation reigns unchecked. Finally, we’re pissed off that anarchists feel it’s so much more important to target another anarchist with unpopular views, than to attack institutional structures of our oppression”.

The authors also draw attention to the fact that the number one target of the protest inside the event was Helen Steel, a long-term anarchist activist and one-time McLibel defendant who was subjected to intrusive state surveillance by an undercover police officer who deceived her into a two-year relationship.

They comment: “One of the most disturbing aspects of all this was the way in which people allowed rumour to spread. The T-Word, once uttered, seemed to diffuse any flicker of concern from onlookers, all independent thought going out the window. ‘Apparently she was giving out Terf leaflets’, said a few.

“As mentioned, this transpired to be false information, and when those spreading the rumours were asked whether they had seen the texts for themselves, none of them had actually done so. When challenged, one person brushed it off by saying there was no smoke without fire, as if people were incapable of making mistakes.

“This sentiment also reveals ignorance of the long history of state agents using divide and rule tactics against dissidents – from COINTELPRO, to Stasi ops – and the fact that HS has herself been a target for state deception and manipulation”.

7. Acorninfo

Eco-activists protecting the Hambacher Forest near Aachen in Germany have won a little time in their battle to protect the area from open coal mining. After cops started to try and shift protesters, using pepper spray, and clear-cutting began, work was halted again on November 28 by a court pending further deliberations from the regional parliament.

* * *

Legendary US environmental activist Katie Lee has died at the age of 98. She was best known for her fierce opposition to the Glen Canyon Dam in northern Arizona. She felt it was a crime against nature, humanity and history: “The way I describe it is an aneurism, an aneurism. It’s a stoppage of the blood in the body, and that’s what they’re doing to our rivers with these dams, what we’re doing to our planet, I mean, you cut off all the blood in your body, you die. You cut off all our rivers and we’re gonna be out of here. We can’t survive without them”.

* * *

“The world of undercover policing, informers and corporate spies is by its very nature murky. It is populated by professionals who go to great lengths to hide their activities, and to build cover”, warns a pamphlet on police infiltration from undercoverresearch.net. As evidence of these infiltrators and their activities continues to emerge, dissidents would do well to have a good careful read of Was My Friend A Spycop?

* * *

The next Anarchist Action Network meeting is being staged on Sunday 10th December, from 1pm to 3pm, at 11 Ferry Rd, Shoreham-By-Sea, West Sussex, BN43 5RA. The AAN is an autonomous network made up of local groups and individuals from the anarchist movement based in the UK. All are welcome, except for cops pretending to be anarchists!

* * *

Scientists have called for an urgent ban on killer robots, with technology now existing to create autonomous weapons that can select and kill human targets without supervision. Campaigner Noel Sharkey, the emeritus professor of AI at Sheffield University and chair of the International Committee on Robot Arms Control, said: “We must succeed because the alternatives are too horrifying.” More info at autonomousweapons.org

* * *

One by one, all those dystopian sci-fi nightmares are coming true. Another one comes (again!) from Facebook, which has rolled out new “proactive detection” artificial intelligence technology which “will scan all posts for patterns of suicidal thoughts, and when necessary send mental health resources to the user at risk or their friends, or contact local first-responders”. It’s all in the interests of your own “safety”, of course, and Facebook spokesman confirmed that “users cannot opt out”.  You can opt out of Facebook altogether, though…

* * *

“Madrid’s refusal to compromise, in the view of the Catalan nationalist movement, renders the push towards Catalan independence impossible to avert”, concludes a useful summary of the current situation at euroasiareview.com.  We continue to support Catalan autonomy, despite our complete lack of faith in the idea of any kind of state. As we said in Acorn 37: “With its use of the whole gamut of repressive methods, from internet censorship and brutal violence to media distortion of what has been happening, the Spanish state could almost be acting out a dress rehearsal of clamp-downs on disobedient populations elsewhere. If the authorities can get away with it in Barcelona and Catalonia, with their proud revolutionary spirit and sense of community, they might conclude they could get away with it anywhere.”

* * *

“Anarchy is a word we use to describe those moments when force cannot subdue us, and life flourishes as we know it should”. So declares Fighting for Our Lives, an anarchist primer produced by US comrades Crimethinc some 15 years ago and now, happily, available online. So-called anarchists in London and elsewhere may want to ponder its concluding words: “Then, as now, as always, the important question is—which side are you on?”

* * *

Acorn quote: “It does not require more than a simple act of insight to realise that infinite growth of material consumption in a finite world is an impossibility”.

E.F. SchumacherSmall Is Beautiful

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

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The Acorn – 31

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Number 31


In this issue:

  1. Capitalists threaten Stonehenge and Sherwood Forest
  2. Britain: open for pillage
  3. Roads to disaster
  4. Fighting fascist America
  5. Strike back at the capitalist beast!
  6. Acorninfo

1. Capitalists threaten Stonehenge and Sherwood Forest

The vampires of industrial capitalism are entirely ruthless about the living flesh off which they feed, whether the human beings they exploit or the nature they despoil.

They are particularly callous regarding anything to do with our culture, the people’s culture, which they regard as an irritating obstacle in the way of their never-quenched red-fanged thirst for profit and power.

These self-obsessed social parasites simply don’t care if their schemes destroy communities, displace whole populations from their homelands, trample all over sacred sites across the world.

And just because Britain was the country where the curse of the Industrial Revolution was first unleashed, don’t imagine these life-hating sociopaths have any more respect for our own cultural heritage.

If they did, how could they be planning to pierce a tarmac-and-concrete hole through the heart of Stonehenge, symbol of England’s mystical past? How could they envisage inflicting the toxic industrialisation of fracking on Sherwood Forest, legendary home of Robin Hood, incarnation of the age-old fight by England’s dispossessed against injustice and tyranny?

The road scheme planned for Stonehenge in Wiltshire is supposed to be a good thing because the current road, close to the ancient monument, will disappear. But it will “disappear” into a short tunnel passing right through the sacred soil surrounding this iconic site, with massive portals causing permanent damage to the landscape.

Nobody with any sense of history could possibly countenance such desecration of what is considered “the most archaeologically significant land surface in Europe” and acknowledged by UNESCO as “without parallel”.

But then the money-men and their puppets in government care only for the short-term future of their own offshore bank accounts.

Stonehenge has been threatened by road building and other major developments for over 20 years, as explained on the Stonehenge Alliance website.

The current UK Government plans to spend £2 billion widening the A303, with the dual carriageway crossing the Stonehenge World Heritage Site.

The historian Dan Snow, president of the Council for British Archaeology, has likened the capitalist roadbuilders to vandals and zealots who destroy artefacts of ancient civilisations.

He said: “Of all our many treasures on these islands, none is more internationally revered than Stonehenge. We have recently started to realise that the standing stones are just a beginning, they sit at the heart of the world’s most significant and best preserved stone age landscape. The government’s plans endanger this unique site.

“Around the world we see pictures of our fellow humans smashing the treasures of the past and count ourselves lucky that we live in a country which values its rich history and appreciates what it offers modern Britain. Our heritage helps us understand ourselves, how we got here and where we are going.”

sherwood1

Meanwhile, opponents of fracking have vowed to defend Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire after it was revealed that chemical company INEOS is preparing to explore for shale gas.

According to a Freedom of Information request by Friends of the Earth, INEOS has been negotiating since last summer with the Forestry Commission for access to land for seismic surveying and a possible well site.

Drill or Drop reports that maps released under the request show surveys would be carried out across the Sherwood Forest national nature reserve, on Forestry Commission land and the Welbeck estate.

They suggest that if the surveys went ahead, the edge of one block would be within 500m of the legendary Major Oak, an 800 to 1,000-year-old tree reputedly slept in by Robin Hood and his merry band.

sherwood2
Protecting the Major Oak from the fracking mafia

Friends of the Earth campaigner Guy Shrubsole said: “Is nothing sacred? By hunting for shale gas in Sherwood Forest, chemicals giant INEOS is sticking two fingers up at England’s green heritage, all in the pursuit of profit. INEOS seems to have taken a different message than the rest of us from Robin Hood”.

Hundreds of protesters met at Major Oak on January 7 with what the local press described as “one clear message – ‘frack off and leave us alone’.”

Greg Hewitt of Frack Free Nottinghamshire said: “I’m really happy with the turn-out today. I thought it would be 50 to 100 people but it’s double that at least.”

Frack free campaigner David Kesteven said: “We’ve got to stop fracking because of climate change. The fact that they have come to the heart of Sherwood Forest shows that they will stop at nothing. We have got to make a stand somewhere and this is a good place to stand.”

Rose Hart added: “We are protectors, not protesters. We are protecting this land. We say no to fracking anywhere. We also feel it’s important that somewhere like Sherwood Forest isn’t affected because Sherwood Forest and the Major Oak are so symbolic of our country.”

sherwood4

The fracking industry is a corrupt mafia-like entity linked to the state (see this spinwatch investigation) and it is no easy task trying to halt it in its tracks.

But the stakes could hardly be higher, as a stirring recent blogpost by frack free campaigner Tina Rothery points out.

She writes: “Nothing is more important than our air and water – nothing. For those still unsure if NOW is the time to stand up and say no, to get involved in a local campaign, to join others to stop this industry as it steamrollers through our communities and shatters democracy… please be assured that NOW is when you are needed most!

“The UK currently IS frack-free and that puts us in the stronger position – IF this industry gets a foothold, then we are disempowered by laws and the cost of accessing ‘justice’. Then we will only have direct action as the option – all others will be gone”.

sherwood5

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2. Britain: open for pillage

Greg Clark busy representing business interests, as ever

We live in a “representative democracy”, but whose interests do our political leaders really represent?

The answer has been more obvious than ever in the UK in recent weeks, with the government’s announcement of a “Modern Industrial Strategy”.

It is adding an extra £4.7 billion to the money it already bungs to its boardroom sponsors in the guise of so-called research & development funding. This “investment” will go to areas such as AI, “smart” energy technology, robotics, and 5G wireless.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark says the strategy will “drive economic growth across the whole country”. In case you hadn’t noticed, “economic growth” equals business profits at the expense of you and your environment.

fatcats

The government is planning to spend £170 million to establish new Institutes of Technology providing “high-skilled technical training tailored to employers’ needs” – nice of them to pay for businesses to train their own workforces, from whose efforts they presumably aim to make a tidy profit. Who needs an education when you can be a fully-trained system-monkey?

When the government says that Britain is “open for business”, it really means that it is whoring out the population and the countryside to the highest bidder.

Chancellor Philip Hammond pledged £23bn for the National Productivity Investment Fund in his autumn statement, with money earmarked in the next five years to create an Oxford to Cambridge expressway road and new railway infrastructure in the Midlands. The government has also set a target of 200,000 new homes a year. The countryside is coming under direct attack with 14 “garden villages” to be parachuted right on to the middle of greenfield areas.

new-homes
That’s better. Woods and fields do nothing to boost the economy

The Department for Communities and Local Government said there had been “high levels of interest” in building more villages in the coming years – yes, from ruthless sharks in the property development business out to make a quick buck from destroying our countryside!

Another “infrastructure development” under consideration is the National Grid’s £2.8bn plan to connect the planned Moorside nuclear power station, Sellafield’s replacement, to the UK power network with a 102-mile long power line. The route goes through the Lake District national park.

Shaun Spiers, chief executive of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), said there was “a real concern” about the way development is being prioritised. “Everybody recognises that we need to update infrastructure, and the CPRE’s traditional role since it was set up in 1926 has been to question whether or not it’s necessary and if there are alternatives to industrialising landscapes,” Spiers told the Observer.

“There’s a terrible sense right now that ministers are just keen to say that Britain’s open for business at the expense of everything else. It’s all justified on narrow economic grounds, and I’m not sure anyone is standing back and saying ‘what are the alternatives?’”

See also:

Degrowth and the death of capitalism

Degrowth: complete system change

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3. Roads to disaster

roads

Whether it’s by “easing congestion” or “boosting the economy”, the industrial capitalist ruling caste is always keen to insist that new roads are in everyone’s interests, not just those of the construction, road haulage and oil industries.

But it is becoming increasingly clear that roads are nothing short of a disaster for every living creature on this planet and that we need to collectively take the next exit off the modern motorway to madness.

A new study has revealed that rampant road building has shattered the Earth’s land into 600,000 fragments, most of which are too tiny to support significant wildlife.

roadclose

The impact of roads extends far beyond the roads themselves, the scientists said, by enabling forest destruction, pollution, the splintering of animal populations and the introduction of deadly pests. New roads also pave the way to further exploitation by humans, such as poaching or mining, and new infrastructure.

Roads are also bad for individual health, as you may have guessed the last time your lungs were filled with the toxic fumes that so many of us have been exposed to throughout our degraded urban lives.

A new study published in The Lancet has proved that living close to a busy road increases the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia by up to 12%.

Lead scientist Dr Hong Chen, from Public Health Ontario in Canada, said: “Our findings show the closer you live to roads with heavy day-to-day traffic, the greater the risk of developing dementia. With our widespread exposure to traffic and the greater tendency for people to live in cities these days, this has serious public health implications.

“Increasing population growth and urbanisation has placed many people close to heavy traffic, and with widespread exposure to traffic and growing rates of dementia, even a modest effect from near-road exposure could pose a large public health burden”.

And, as “economic growth” increases and the juggernaut of industrial capitalism transports us all towards oblivion, that craze-inducing pollution will inevitably worsen, despite the introduction of slightly less polluting engines.

January’s cold, still weather saw swathes of the UK suffer from alarming levels of air pollution. Northern Ireland, London, the South East and Eastern regions experienced “very high” levels of pollutants known as particulate matter, or PMs, which come from sources such as traffic emissions, in particular diesel engines.

Responding to advice that people should reduce outside activity because of the pollution, Friends of the Earth London campaigner Sophie Neuburg said: “It’s outrageous that children, who have done nothing to cause the problem, need to be kept indoors when air pollution is bad. Instead, the mayor should introduce emergency traffic restrictions to reduce air pollution quickly and make our air safer.

“We know traffic is one of the biggest problems for air pollution and diesel is the worst of all”.

It’s not just the UK that is affected, of course. Paris has been suffering its worst and most prolonged winter pollution for at least 10 years, while cities like Beijing face constant “red alert” levels.

All the worthy efforts to peg back the pollution ultimately just distract attention from the real problem – an industrial Frankenstein’s monster which is careering out of control under its own momentum and threatens to bring life on this beautiful planet to a tragically premature halt.

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4. Fighting fascist America

trumpro2

A massive wave of angry revolts took place in Washington, DC and across the USA on January 20 as Donald Trump became President.

Report submedia.tv: “On Friday, January 20, more than 200 comrades were arrested in DC during the protests against Trump and the hatred and bigotry he represents.

“They risked their freedom not only to confront individual fascists, but the fascist agenda itself – and to show that no matter who is elected, we are ungovernable.”

Throughout the day, hundreds gathered to receive the arrestees as they were released from jail: as each person was released, at times escorted by riot cops, the crowd cheered and chanted as they welcomed them back.

But many will be facing serious legal battles in the coming months. Said submedia: “Let’s show them we are willing to support them in return for the courage they have shown for us!”

trumpro1

The day began well, as crews from Standing Rock and Black Lives Matter blocked all entrances to the inauguration venue in Washington, DC.

Later, more than 500 anti-capitalists rampaged through the US capital in defiance of the security state. They blockaded streets and attacked symbols of capitalism and the cops. Windows of banks, Starbucks and McDonald’s were smashed and a stretch limo torched.

This 14-minute video shows the courage of the Black Bloc. Needless to say, the police presence was extremely high and hundreds were arrested. People now face felony charges and legal support is sorely needed. You can donate to the bail and legal support funds by going to disruptj20.org/legal-fund/

Disturbingly, journalists have been charged with felonies for covering the unrest with at least six media workers facing up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine if convicted.

Other protests across the USA were also met with police repression. One notable success was in Chicago, were thousands invaded the streets in the evening of January 20, blocking traffic and smashing bank windows.

Said protesters in Washington, DC: “Activists warned there would be ‘no peaceful transition’ and indeed there was none: J20 was well and truly disrupted! This is but the beginning of four long, hard years of utter fighting against every scrap of Trump’s racist and fascist agenda.”

As well as the risk of ongoing internal dissent, the USA now faces an international image problem. Hundreds of cities across the world hosted protests against Trump. The camouflage provided to US imperialism by Obama, recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, has now gone forever. Under Trump, every move made by the Evil Empire will be fully scrutinised by world opinion…

trump-gun

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5. Strike back at the capitalist beast!

hamburg-poster2

There is more than one way to resist the industrial capitalist system.

One is to stay put where you are and ferociously defend its onslaught.

Another way, which can of course be combined with local resistance, is to take the fight to the system itself and to come together to attack the symbols of its authority.

This summer in Hamburg presents an excellent opportunity to put this second option into practice, alongside hundreds of thousands of like-minded people.

In July the leaders of the capitalist world, including a certain Donald Trump, will be gathering in the northern German city to tell the human race that they have got everything in hand and all we need to do is sit back on our comfy sofas of apathy and let them get on with it.

A few people with an alternative vision of how things might pan out around the G20 summit got together in Hamburg in December to discuss tactics. Well, no fewer than 600 of them, in fact!

hamburg-poster3

With summit protests on the wane in recent years, the capitalist scum are crawling back from remote rural fortresses into city centres – the Hamburg summit will take place in the middle of the city near St Pauli, Schanzenviertel (Rote Flora) and Karoviertel.

This is handily close to the left-wing and alternative neighbourhoods and the German police are already planning to clamp Hamburg into a state of emergency, with more than 10,000 cops present and the inner city in lockdown.

But the NoG20 platform has also been making plans, which involve NGOs, political parties, social initiatives in the city, radical left groups, militants, autonomous groups, anti-globalisation groups, climate groups, unions, refugee groups, Kurdish and Turkish groups.

They say: “If they want to lock down Hamburg, we know what we have to do. We will show them that we are still existing, not accepting their global politics of devastation. We will show them that Hamburg is rebellious and that the city belongs to us.

“There will be the possibility to come together as rebellious movements to protest against the isolation and the closure of the borders, against the ecological destruction, against violence and sexism, against war and exploitation and to show that we want the freedom of movement, the good life for everybody and solidarity for all.

“We have much to say and to criticize and we want to have another world. It’s still true, another world is possible and more necessary than ever, let’s meet in Hamburg!”

hamburg-poster

The broad anti-G20 platform wants to create a common week of protest against the G20 summit. The idea so far is for a counter summit on July 5 and 6, a day of action on July 7 and a huge demo on July 8, at which they expect more than 100,000 people.

The next action conference, in the spring, will be an international one hosted in Hamburg. Blockupy International has published an open letter to call for other European networks and movements to discuss the upcoming G20 mobilization

There will also be protests in Baden-Baden in southwestern Germany on March 17 and 18 for the pre-summit meeting of the G20 finance ministers.

badenbaden

Say anti-G20 organisers: “We think the first step is done and was very successful. Now we have to get in the more detailed preparing. We’re looking forward to plan and discuss with you the next steps until July. See you soon or at the latest in Hamburg on the streets”.

See also report in Acorn 29

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6. Acorninfo

The Earth First! Winter Moot is being held in Manchester, UK, from February 24 to 26. This is a weekend of campaign updates, networking, planning, solidarity and socialising in the North West – the fracking frontline. If you are involved, or want to get involved, in ecological resistance in Britain and Ireland, whether you are fighting fracking, opencast coal, GM, nuclear power, new road building or quarries, the Winter Moot is for you… The venue is MERCI, Bridge 5 Mill, 22A Beswick Street, Manchester M4 7HR, a 20-minute walk from Manchester Piccadilly station. http://earthfirstgathering.org/moot.html

efwinter

* * *

A booklet exposing the adverse health implications of fracking has been published online by Frack Free Sussex. It says: “Fracking has been linked to numerous health conditions, including asthma, headaches, high blood pressure, dizziness, nose-bleeds, sore eyes, anaemia, neurological illness, pneumonia, premature birth, heart attacks and cancer. In the UK indirect health effects are already being felt in communities where there are unwanted fracking applications. Stress, depression and anxiety affect residents and people in the locality, particularly the vulnerable and the elderly.”

fracking-booklet

* * *

“Anarchy and Anarchists in the Archive” is the title of an event being staged from 2pm to 3pm on Tuesday February 7 at London Metropolitan Archives, 40 Northampton Road, Clerkenwell EC1R 0HB. Attendance is free but has to be pre-booked on 020 7332 3851 or via the website.

anarchy

* * *

The British Army social media psyops unit 77 Brigade is struggling to recruit trolls and cyber-warriors in spite of a recruitment publicity blitz last year, according to the Ministry of Defence. The “brigade” – in reality a unit slightly smaller than an infantry battalion, with a target manning strength of 448 people – is under strength by about 40 per cent, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act. The unit’s dark arts include destabilising opponents of the British state by starting whispering campaigns among their supporters and potential supporters, reports The Register.

77-brigade
Ignore those trolls!

* * *

Anarchists across the world have been expressing solidarity with Hüseyin Civan, editor of anarchist newspaper Meydan Gazette in Istanbul, who has been jailed for a year and three months by the Turkish state. His crime was “propagandising the methods of a terror organisation” by supporting Kurdish revolutionaries fighting Islamists in Rojava. More info from Freedom News.

meydan

* * *

Local authorities in the UK were given permission to carry out more than 55,000 days of covert surveillance over five years, including spying on people walking dogs, feeding pigeons and fly-tipping. A mass freedom of information request has found 186 councils used the government’s Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to gather evidence via secret listening devices, cameras and private detectives. When the law was introduced, the government said it would only be used when absolutely necessary to protect British people from extreme threats. Surprisingly enough, it was lying.

big_brother_is_watching_you

* * *

“Humans lived for tens of thousands of years in small, sell-governing, hunter-gatherer groups and agricultural villages, mostly cooperative and equal, without states, or classes, or markets. In a real sense the anarchist vision is of a spiral return to such a society, at a higher level of production—with guarantees of plenty for all and of sufficient leisure, in balance with the ecology”. This is The Vision of Revolutionary Anarchism set out by writer Wayne Price in a new book just published in Greek, based largely on articles from Anarkismo website.

wayne-price-book

* * *

Two new books on the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s relation to anarchism have been published, one in English and one in German. Nietzsche and Anarchy: Psychology for Free Spirits, Ontology for Social War by Shahin is published by Elephant Editions & Active Distribution. It aims to use some Nietzschean ideas as weapons for self-transformation and social struggle. Hard copies are available from Active Distribution or you can read it online at The Anarchist Library. The book in German, Dominique F. Miething’s Anarchistische Deutungen der Philosophie Friedrich Nietzsches, states that although Nietzsche was not an anarchist his ideas nevertheless generated strong interest from key figures in the historical anarchist movement such as Gustav Landauer and Emma Goldman. In recent times, the intellectual cult of “postanarchism” has invoked Nietzsche’s abstract ideas, while disregarding actual historical examples of Nietzschean anarchism. More info here.

nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche

* * *

The sinister potential of Amazon’s new voice-interface operating system, Echo, has been revealed by reviewer John Naughton. He writes in The Guardian: “It brings a networked listening device into the heart of the home, with appalling implications for misuse. Amazon tries to dodge this issue by saying that the Echo is always listening, but not recording: it only starts transmitting data to the cloud after it hears the trigger word ‘Alexa’. Some police forces in the US clearly doubt that. The cops in Bentonville, Arkansas, for example, have issued a warrant requiring Amazon to hand over any audio or records from an Echo belonging to a guy who is set to go to trial next year for the murder of a friend. The police are after any audio the speaker may have picked up on the night of the murder because while “the Echo is activated by certain words, it’s not uncommon for the IoT gadget to be alerted to listen by accident”. You have been warned, techno-addicts.

echo
Big Brother is listening, too

* * *

The battle to stop Brighton Council selling off two much-loved areas of public downland is still there to be won, after they were given a second last-minute reprieve. The sell-off of the land (see Acorn 29) at Plumpton Hill and Poynings is on hold pending more information and alternative revenue-raising options. By the way, anyone tempted to believe that the Labour Party has miraculously become a radical force under Jeremy Corbyn should note that a Brighton Labour councillor insisted that the privatisation of the downland “made good economic sense and the public would see no change in the land after the sale”.

The latest protest in Hove
The latest protest in Hove

* * *

Acorn quote: “One of the essential themes of this critique, which resurfaces like an obsession in the work of writers, poets, philosophers and historians, is the clash between Kultur, a spiritual realm of ethical, religious or aesthetic values, and Zivilisation, the vulgar materialist world of economic and technological progress. If capitalism is, according to Max Weber’s mercilessly perceptive expression, the disenchantment of the world (Entzauberung der Welt), then anti-capitalist Romanticism has to be seen primarily as a despairing and nostalgic attempt at the re-enchantment of the world”.

Michael Löwy, Rédemption et utopie: le judaïsme libertaire en Europe centrale

ascona
Anti-capitalist Romantics at play in Ascona

(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 – 8

acornmastheadnew

Number 8


In this issue:

  1. Wiping the smug look off the face of capitalism!
  2. Film: “The city is the end of the world”
  3. The “regeneration” scam
  4. Developers erase communities and their histories
  5. Forms of Freedom – new anarchist book from Winter Oak
  6. Government are a bunch of fracking hypocrites!
  7. Brighton solidarity with jailed Spanish anarchists
  8. Acorninfo

1. Wiping the smug look off the face of capitalism!

Draghi protest2
Frightened of something, Mr President?

When a young anti-capitalist leapt on to the desk in front of European Central Bank president Mario Draghi when he was giving a press conference in Frankfurt on April 15, the look on Draghi’s face was priceless.

Where was his security? Where was his certainty? Where was his unchallenged power to pontificate without any interruption from those who should know their submissive place in the social structure and stick to it?

Draghi protest

The impact of this one-woman protest (following on from the thousands-strong protests in Frankfurt a few weeks ago  and hopefully continuing with the May 1 protests against the World Fair in Milan) is something that needs to be matched on a theoretical level.

We heretics of the capitalist age need to blow a hole in the smug certainties of the neoliberal cult of which Draghi is part.

Jobs, economic growth, regeneration. These are its holy words, the sanctimonious doublespeak that is uttered every time it carries out some new abomination.

Like all such dogma, these terms “cannot” be challenged. They are supposed to be self-evidently desirable. From within the capitalists’ world, it is so obvious that “everyone” is in favour of jobs, growth and regeneration that they don’t even feel they have to argue the case.

But the truth is that it is precisely only from within their world that they make any sense. It is only by accepting all the assumptions that lie behind these loaded terms that they appear to be positive concepts.

For instance, don’t we all need jobs? How else would we have any food or shelter? How else could we live – unless we are rich or “sponging” from the state? But the reality is that most “jobs” have nothing to do with feeding us. They just provide us with tokens (money) which we can exchange for food, grown on the land which has been stolen from the commons of a non-owned planet by an elite who invented the idea of “property” to justify this theft and then invented the idea of “law” to justify the constant violence they use to hold on to their ill-gotten gains.

arbeit_macht_frei

A “job” is not a good thing in itself. It depends what you are actually doing. Nuclear weapons factories create “jobs”. Rainforest clearance creates “jobs”. Prisons, detention centres, animal testing labs, concentration camps – all of these involve “jobs”.

We, those of us who reject the capitalist world, need to break through the barriers to understanding erected by the words they use and by the assumptions behind them.

Already, the degrowth movement is pointing out that “economic growth” is about as good news for humanity as a “cancerous growth” is for an individual.

Likewise with “regeneration”. Capitalist regeneration is nothing but destruction. Real regeneration would start with the clearing away of the toxic infrastructure of the industrial capitalist machine that we are somehow allowing to destroy the one thing we can never do without – the planet we live on.

But it also must start with the clearing away of the assumptions and certainties which capitalism uses to hide the reality of its violent domination of humankind.

As long as we dissidents continue to pay lip service to the neoliberal liturgy of jobs, growth and development, the face of the capitalist system will retain its complacent certainty that we are incapable of seeing through its exploitative lies – and acting accordingly.

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2. Film: “The city is the end of the world”

Metropolis

“In the city, life is not free. It must be paid for. There is no home here, there is only money, control and order. The city is the epicentre of illusion and the absolute apex of lifelessness. It is a black hole perched along the river devouring all that is free. The city is the end of the world.”

These words come from the introductory scenes of a superb video called Metropolis, which was made in 2012 but is not yet as well known as it should be.

Its focus is on Seattle in the USA, the home of Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon, which tries to pass itself off as some kind of eco-friendly model of a happy hi-tech future. But, as the film says, “the Emerald City is not what it seems”.

Here we see the whole infrastructure of a modern conurbation, from transport networks to power and water supplies, from offices to shopping malls to prisons.

Everything in the capitalist city is interconnected and everything is there to facilitate the flow of capital – not least the human population.

If you don’t serve the purposes of capital, you are not welcome here: “Only those with money and the intention of spending it are encouraged to enter the heart of downtown, where everything must be paid for”.

Behind the gentrification of luxury “eco-friendly” apartments, behind all the creation of jobs and boosting of the economy is the reality of an industrial civilization which pollutes our water and turns human beings into slaves of a technological master – not for nothing does the documentary feature clips from sci-fi films Terminator and Existenz.

We are shown how the police and public authorities work hand in hand with the powerful businesses of the city to ensure this is how things remain: “It is in all of their interests to have a submissive and orderly population that will help them expand the economy.”

One comment regarding the port of Seattle could just as easily apply to any other part of the system: “The pollution, the deaths at the workplace, all of it can be ignored as long as the wheels of the metropolis keep turning.”

Seattle anarchists
Anarchists in Seattle

But there is a positive side, too. In contrast to the nightmare present, projected into a nightmare future, the film presents the sense of possibility offered by revolt.

It reminds us: “Life is the force that brought us to this moment and it is life that will get us out of this trap. As soon as we make the choice, we are free.”

The film can be seen online (in segments) here. A version with French subtitles is also being created here.

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3. The “regeneration” scam

Regeneration? Trees felled to make way for a SeaChange project
Capitalist “regeneration”. Trees felled to make way for a SeaChange project

The scam of capitalist “regeneration” is being challenged by campaigners in southern England.

Behind all the talk of “job creation”, “development” and “infrastructure” is the reality of environmental destruction and a massive financial cost to those who will never benefit from the schemes.

SeaChange logo
SeaChange: a “not-for-profit” cog in the capitalist machine

The SeaChangeWatch website has been set up by residents of Hastings and St Leonards and focuses on SeaChange Sussex, a “not-for-profit economic development company” which trades under the name “East Sussex Energy Infrastructure and Development Limited”.

This is the grey area where state and business overlap. A private company funded almost completely by the public purse, SeaChange says on its own website that it is  ”working to expand the area’s economy and business community by attracting successful companies and enabling local firms to grow”.

But the campaigners are questioning “the huge amount of public money poured into SeaChange Sussex to create ‘regeneration’ in our town”, adding “Our green spaces are being destroyed by this ‘build and the occupiers will come’ policy.”

Creating "opportunities" - to trash the Sussex countryside
Creating “opportunities” – to trash the Sussex countryside

In recent years, SeaChange Sussex (or its precursor, SeaSpace) has built two business parks locally for which it “appears totally unable to find occupiers”. Despite this, it is pushing ahead with plans for two more sites – Bexhill Innovation Park and the Queensway Gateway development.

Say the campaigners: “By granting planning permission for these new sites without asking any questions about the previous ones, our local councils – Hastings Borough Council and Rother District Council – are colluding in the environmental destruction and waste of public money which these projects represent”.

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4.  Developers erase communities and their histories

East End Howler

A handy guide to “understanding developer-speak” has been put together by the East End Howler, an excellent free news sheet from London (issue 15):

Affordable: No more than 80% of market rate.

Read: Insultingly unaffordable for most.

Decanting: Councils and property developers will actually refer to people like they’re canned goods. Perhaps it’s easier on their consciences than “displacing families and shattering communities”.

Read: getting rid of those pesky working class types.

Flagship development: Huge amounts of money pumped into a single development to try to “revitalise” an area – in other words, to kick off gentrification.

Read: the cavalry is coming.

Investment, growth, revitalisation: At the same time as people are being turfed out, places are increasingly being given new names, presumably in an attempt to create a “buzz” about an area loud enough to drown out the sound of bulldozers. Usually “something-Quarter”, “something-Town”, “something-Village”. Eviction clearly isn’t enough – histories have to be erased with it.

Read: We consider the previous residents to be skeletons in our closet.

Regeneration, improvement: Making changes to an area to attract bigger businesses and richer tenants. As no attempt will be made to counteract the inevitable increase in house prices, anyone who currently lives there is screwed.

Read: Doing absolutely anything we can to attract rich overseas property investors.

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5. Forms of Freedom – new anarchist book from Winter Oak

formsoffreedomcover

A new book on anarchist philosophy from writer Paul Cudenec has been published by Winter Oak – Forms of Freedom.

In this important work, the author of The Anarchist Revelation, The Stifled Soul of Humankind and Antibodies challenges layer upon layer of the assumptions that lie largely unchallenged beneath contemporary industrial capitalist society.

He rejects limited definitions of freedom as an absence of specific restraints in favour of a far deeper and more radical analysis which describes individual, collective, planetary and metaphysical levels of freedom.

A powerful and tightly-argued work inspired by a profoundly coherent anarchist vision, Forms of Freedom is a potential classic of 21st century revolutionary philosophy.

Writes Cudenec: “How can the human race embrace freedom if it does not have a clear idea of what freedom is? How can we ever gain a clear idea of freedom if we do not even start looking for it in the right places?

“A collective delusion has taken over humanity, fogged its mind, rendered it incapable of understanding its own essential reality or the way in which it has become blinded to that reality and thus incapable of acting in its own real interests”.

More information on a special page at https://winteroak.org.uk/forms-of-freedom

Paul Cudenec will be talking about the theme of the book in a 2pm workshop at the Bristol Anarchist Bookfair on Saturday April 25.

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6. Government are a bunch of fracking hypocrites!

Regulations? David Cameron won't let anything stand in the way of the fracking industry
Regulations? David Cameron won’t let anything stand in the way of the fracking industry

Some big lies behind the British state’s all-out support for the fracking industry are exposed in a new book by a Sussex campaigner.

Balcombe and Beyond: UK’s Frack Free Movement by Martin Dale features some important information that reveals the hypocrisy behind all the media spin.

For instance, the UK authorities have often tried to reassure the public that fracking will be perfectly safe here, because of all the lovely regulations we have in place.

But the book reveals that behind the scenes the government has in fact been trying to prevent regulations from getting in the way of the fracking industry’s profits!

Dale writes: “Leaked documents from the European Commission in January 2014 identified Prime Minister David Cameron and the UK Government as the chief opposition to new environmental legislation on fracking operations, stating in a letter to the EC President: ‘It is essential the EU minimise the regulatory burdens and costs on industry… by not creating uncertainty or introducing new legislation. The industry in the UK had told us that new EU legislation would delay imminent investment”.

frackingwater

The author reveals that the only “regulation” the UK has in mind is one conducted by the industry itself! “UK pro-shale advocates cite that there are ‘Gold Standard Regulations’ that make the process of fracking safe for the UK. However, it has been found through Freedom of Information requests that neither the Environment Agency nor the Health and Safety Executive conduct independent inspections of any oil or gas well sites, but instead rely on self-regulation by the well operators”.

He points out early in the book that “the Coalition Government are overtly pro-shale”. This is hardly a secret – indeed the Tories’ 2015 manifesto even boasts about it, declaring “our tax cuts have encouraged record levels of investment in existing North Sea gas, and the birth of a new industry, shale gas, which could create many thousands of jobs.”

As the details of Dale’s research confirm this time and time again, so he leads us on to a broader, and more disconcerting, appreciation of the close collaboration between state and business.

On every level, the state exposes itself as a tool in the hands of the fracking industry. Even the road repairs and widening around drill sites are in effect a subsidy for private industry from the public purse.

frackingdefra

The UK state has also actively prevented the public from hearing the truth about the disastrous impact of fracking if it is allowed to go ahead, even notoriously censoring one of its own reports on the issue!

Dale recalls that in August 2014, government department DEFRA released a report “on the potential impacts of shale gas exploration on rural communities. The report was only 13 pages in length but contained 63 redactions, obscuring almost all of its content. Eight sections had been deleted from the executive summary, four sections on economic impacts, four sections on social impacts, 17 sections on local service impacts and three sections specifically looking at the impact on house prices near drilling sites”.

The state’s reaction to public opposition to fracking – in particular the right to drill under people’s homes without their permission – has also exposed as a complete sham the phoney “consultation” with which it likes to dress up its edicts.

The book tells us: “On the 26th September, the Department for Energy and Climate Change announced the results of the consultation on underground access – some 40,647 responses were made with an astonishing 99% rate of objection to the plans to allow drilling without landowner permission. However, in a press release DECC stated that: ‘We acknowledge the large number of responses against the proposal and the fact that the proposal has provided an opportunity for the public to voice their concerns and raise issues. However the role of the consultation was to see arguments and evidence to consider in developing the proposed policy. Whilst a wide range of arguments were raised and points covered, we did not identify any issues that persuaded us to change the basic form of the proposals”.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, a couple of weeks later a last-minute amendment to what was to become the Infrastructure Act allowed fracking firms to put any substance at all into the ground and leave it there for ever!

balcombeandbeyond

A full review of the book can be read here.

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7. Brighton solidarity with jailed Spanish anarchists

Spain protest
The solidarity protest in Brighton, Sussex

Some 40 people took part in a Sunday evening protest in Brighton on April 12, in solidarity with Spanish anarchists jailed by their increasingly repressive state.

As we reported in Acorn 6 and Acorn 7, “Operación Piñata” is a massive and much-hyped assault by the Spanish police against the anarchist Movement in Spain. It has left five people in “preventive” imprisonment under solitary confinement.

From six in the evening people met at the Clock Tower, in the centre of Brighton, displaying banners, giving out leaflets and explaining to the public about the repression in Spain and the conditions of the comrades. Slogans against the repression and against police and prisons were heard (some of them in Spanish).

Spain protest2
Taking the road in Brighton

After half an hour activists decided to block the road for a few minutes, walking to Churchill Square, where a statement was read in front of the Santander Bank and O2 (Telefónica), two of the biggest Spanish corporations. Then the group made its way back to the Clock Tower where the action concluded.

In the demonstration there were a large number of Spanish people living in Brighton and comrades from different social movements of the city. Solidarity was shown from groups such as Brighton-SolFed, Brighton Antifascists, Sussex Anarchists and Brighton Anarchist Black Cross.

Said a statement from activists: “Spain is becoming a police state because the Government is scared. They are scared of the coherence in the criticism and the practices that the anarchists represent and the incidence that this is having in the people of a country with a long history of revolts.

“In Spain people are angry. Lots of interesting struggles are taking place―struggles in which the people are addressing their problems by themselves, pointing directly to their real enemies: Capitalism and, for a few of them, also the State.

“There are, of course, those who try to recover popular initiatives in order to become the political leaders of the future. Some of them will become council representatives, even majors or ministers. They talk about ‘democratic regeneration’ or promise to go back to the ‘Welfare State’.

“The Spanish Government is well aware of the fact that the calming siren song of the new shepherds is not enough. An army of journalists, politicians and government workers are being mobilised to make sure that nobody crosses the limits. However, their principal weapon is an old one: repression.

Police raids against anarchists have been heavily hyped by Spanish corporate media
Police raids against anarchists have been heavily hyped by Spanish corporate media

“If their intention was to intimidate and isolate what they call the anarchist-terrorists this has been a bad beginning. Just hours after the operation started, a wave of solidarity spread around the country and even far beyond it.

“Thousands of people are taking the streets in solidarity with the detained. They realise that those who are being labelled as members of a dangerous, terrorist cell, could have been them, for Spain―like many other places in Europe― is becoming a trap for those who do not want to become docile subjects.

“While living conditions are getting worse the ruling class is answering with criminalisation of the fighters. International solidarity is particularly important now. It must be shown that we are not scared, that we are very angry and that our comrades are not alone. Solidarity will go on. Liberation for the anarchists arrested now! ¡Ahora y siempre, muerte al Estado y viva la Anarquía!”

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8. Acorninfo

A good example of targeting neoliberal infrastructure comes from Oakland, USA, where there is a Mayday call-out to “Block the Tech Commute!”. Says a post on Anarchist News: “Oakland is seeing an unprecedented wave of gentrification creeping in from every direction. The rich have begun colonizing North Oakland, West Oakland, and Downtown. Their tech buses, their pricey cafes, and their luxury apartments have begun to appear with alarming frequency. This May Day, we will deliver a simple message to these colonizers during their morning commute. Starting at 7:30 AM and lasting until 9:30 AM, we call on everyone to converge at the MacArthur BART [Bay Area Rapid Transit] station to interrupt the morning commute. The tech shuttle buses for Facebook, Google, and Apple all stop outside the BART station on 40th Street, below the freeway. We will converge in front of these buses, on the platforms of the station, and in front of the BART gates to spread our message”.

Block the tech commute

* * *

As the capitalist system fears up for another phoney election in the UK, Occupy Democracy has announced a ten-day occupation of Parliament Square, London, from May 1 to May 10,  to continue building “a movement for real democracy: free from corporate control, working for people and planet”. They say: “We will return to Parliament Square to expose our broken democracy and work towards real democratic solutions through engaging workshops, lively discussions and creative direct action”.

occupy democracy

* * *

A round-up of protests around Mayday and later in the year has been posted by the Anarchist Action Network on its website. Its next meeting will be on Saturday May 30  at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, where you can “help organise London Rising, a week-long temporary anarchist space in the capital this August”.  There will be a practical working day on the Sunday.

COWLEY

* * *

A marvellous report of neoliberal democracy in action – in which the interests of business always take precedence. In this instance the country is the USA and the subject-matter is fracking. “The Texas state House of Representatives has passed a bill that would block cities in Texas from banning the controversial oil and gas exploration method known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The bill featured 70 co-sponsors and had the support of the oil and gas industry. The House vote comes just a few months after voters in a small Texas town called Denton approved a measure that banned fracking in the area. Denton was the first Texas city or county to ban the practice, the oil industry has already filed a lawsuit seeking to reverse the prohibition.”

dentonfrackban600

* * *

A glimpse into the struggles of Palestinian prisoners is provided by a new briefing from Corporate Watch. Imprisoned Voices results from a 2013 Corporate Watch visit to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in which researchers interviewed released prisoners about their experiences.  They have been collected together “to inspire readers to take action in solidarity with them and against the companies profiting from their suffering”. The report can be downloaded here or read online here.

Imprisoned Voices
Imprisoned Voices

* * *

Why Anti-Civilization: A Short Introduction to Green Anarchy is an online brochure from The Feral Space Collective, originally published in the zine Disorderly Conduct. “We cannot reform civilization, green it up, or make it more fair. It is rotten to the core. We don’t need more ideology, morality, fundamentalism, or better organization to save us. We must save ourselves. We have to live according to our own desires. We have to connect with ourselves, those we care about, and the rest of life. We have to break out of, and break down, this reality. We need Action. To put it simply, civilization is a war on life, we are fighting for our lives, and we declare war on civilization!”

anarcoveganismo

* * *

Acorn quote: “Do not fool yourself by saying you would like to help usher in a free society, but you cannot sacrifice an armchair for it”. Voltairine de Cleyre, The Dominant Idea.

Voltairine_de_Cleyre

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The Acorn – 7

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Number 7


In this issue:

  1. Summer of rebellion ahead!
  2. English resistance to fracking
  3. Mayday in Milano
  4. Fighting the power
  5. Action Camp and Climate Games in Netherlands
  6. Frackanpada
  7. Degrowth Summer School
  8. Rhineland disobedience
  9. Earth First! Summer Gathering
  10. Books celebrate nature mystic
  11. Acorninfo

1. Summer of rebellion ahead!

The Peasant's Revolt of 1380

The revolt against the destructive infrastructure of industrial capitalism will be hotting up all over the place this summer, sending a message to the neoliberal elite that they will not necessarily have it all their own way for ever.

As the disastrous consequences of industrial society become all the more apparent, the complicity of governments increasingly blatant and the greenwashing attempts of global business more and more ridiculous, resistance is inevitably strengthening.

From radical anti-capitalists on the streets of Milan to anti-frackers in the Basque Country, from climate protesters in Germany to anti-roads activists in England, the struggle is one.

Our look (below) at just a few of the things that will be happening in the coming months shows a gathering momentum and a growing understanding that capitalism and industrialism are all the same thing.

The pernicious effects of pollution and environmental damage cannot be separated from the pernicious effects of the exploitation and degradation of human beings.

This so-called capitalist civilization is nothing but  a death-machine, converting the living flesh of our planet into the waste products of profit. For the sake of everyone’s future, we must fight together to consign it to the past.

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2. English resistance to fracking

balcombe protest

The resistance against fracking in southern England – which hit the headlines with the Balcombe protests in 2013 – is looking set to intensify in the next few months.

The global oil industry effectively declared its intent to sacrifice the countryside on the altar of profit with its boastful announcement, reported in The Guardian on April 9, that it had found 100bn barrels of oil underground at Horse Hill on the Sussex-Surrey border near Horley.

Steven Sanderson, chief executive of UK Oil and Gas Investments gloated: “Based on what we’ve found here, we’re looking at between 50 and 100bn barrels of oil in place in the ground. We believe we can recover between 5% and 15% of the oil in the ground, which by 2030 could mean that we produce 10% to 30% of the UK’s oil demand from within the Weald area”.

There was an immediate response from a broad range of environmentalists. Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said: “To gleefully rub your hands at a new fossil fuel discovery you need to turn the clock back to the 19th century and ignore everything we have learnt about climate change since. We already have more than enough coal, oil, and gas reserves to fry the planet. Dotting the English countryside with drilling rigs and pipelines to squeeze the last drop of oil out of Britain doesn’t make any sense.”

And Brenda Pollack, Friends of the Earth South East campaigner warned: “Any firm proposing to drill for oil in the region knows it will face huge opposition – as happened at Balcombe, Fernhurst and Wisborough Green.”

It may be significant that working with UK Oil and Gas Investments at Horse Hill is American firm Magellan Petroleum. The US giant is also partnering fracking firm Celtique at Billingshurst, a few miles away across the Sussex Weald, where the razor wire is up and ready for imminent drilling, as we reported in Acorn 2.

With Balcombe itself not yet safe from fracking, the southern English countryside is thus braced for a new assault. Despite the constant rumours about the poor financial state of the fracking industry, the British state continues to do all it can to try to impose fracking by force if necessary – see our report in Acorn 6.

The absurd talk from fracking industry propagandist Ken Cronin of UK Onshore Oil and Gas about “great care for the environment” and “no impact on local communities” is showed up for what it is by a new documentary film being screened in Sussex this month.

gasfield

Voices from The Gasfields, a bang up-to-date report, talks to residents in Australia affected by the massive amount of fracking that has been allowed by complicit authorities to ruin the landscape, pollute the water supplies and taint the air.

What was once unspoilt bush has been turned into an industrial wasteland, cleared of vegetation, crossed by pipelines, littered with abandoned oil wells. Vegetables gardens have withered away, wildlife is dying, people’s health is suffering and the fracking industry silences news of what is happening with “confidentiality” agreements when it has to pay out for the damage that it admits it has caused.

Of course, the film is not just about what has already happened in Australia. It is about what will happen elsewhere, including England, if the fracking business is allowed to get its way. As residents recall, when describing the nightmare devastation covering one area the size of England – “it all started with one well”.

The threat is clear and activists are ready to respond.

Voices from the Gasfields is being shown by Frack Free Sussex at All Saints Church Hall, The Drive, Hove BN3 3GE from 7pm on Sunday April 26 – free entry.

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3. Mayday in Milano

Noexpo

International anti-capitalist protest, Milan, Italy, Friday May 1

Six weeks after the massive protests against the opening of the European Central Bank HQ in Frankfurt (see Acorn 5), European anti-capitalists will be gathering again, this time in Italy, to take on another major showcase of European neoliberalism.

The mobilisation on Friday May 1 is being billed as “a joyful angry international demonstration through the centre of Milan” and starts at 2pm at Piazza XXIV Maggio on the south side of the city centre.

It is focused on the opening day of Expo 2015, an extravagant six-month “world fair” celebrating the corporate wealth built on the exploitation of workers and the destruction of the environment.

The expo site, to the north-west of the city centre, covers 272 acres and is expected to attract 29 million visitors from the opening day until the end of October.

expo - greenwashing

The self-congratulatory capitalism of Expo 2015 is bad enough in itself but, to add insult to injury, it is trying to pretend it is some kind of environmental showcase.

Its phoney theme of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” is of course nothing but a deceitful piece of greenwash hiding the usual industrial-capitalist agenda, as a closer look at its site quickly reveals.

The section about its corporate “partners” boasts that “Expo Milano 2015 offers a unique business opportunity”.

expo - coca-cola

One of the “corporate pavilions” at the Expo will be from Coca-Cola, whose sickly spin, as unpalatable as its drinks, declares:Coca-Cola is working to embed sustainability-minded innovations at global and local level, into every aspect of its business, from sourcing ingredients to increasing beverage options to aspiring to be water neutral and recovering packaging”.

Coca-Cola claims that it enables “economic empowerment of women” and visitors to its propaganda-zone will learn all about its “efforts to enhance personal well-being, offering low or no-calories beverage options in every market” as well as about its proud record of “protecting the environment”.

Expo - new holland

Another pavilion comes from New Holland Agriculture (a brand of CNH Global NV) which “takes the opportunity to show how a world leader of agricultural mechanisation interprets the present and prepares for the future of farming”.

Also present is Vanke, “Chinese giant and leader in real estate” which has been at the forefront of the glorious “development” of China by the global industrial system. Its fine environmental record involves notching up than 60,000 homes a year. Its own website boasts: “In 2012, sales exceeded RMB 140 billion, once again the largest in the global real estate industry.”

Expo - vanke

The description of Vanke’s pavilion at Expo 2015 belongs firmly in the world of satire: “Visitors are immersed in a forest of poles, with screens which project scenes of lunches, joy, and sharing. The installation, based on the metaphor of roots, trunks and branches symbolizes Vanke’s commitment to the community, which lives among the mutual relationships of people, values and traditions.”

* Many of the same protesters will be joining a huge march against fascism through the northern Italian city two days earlier, on Wednesday April 29.

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4. Fighting the power

RTP

Reclaim the Power, Oxfordshire, England, May 29 – June 2

Reclaim the Power is holding a direct action camp near Didcot Power Station (Oxfordshire) as part of a global day of action, ahead of the UN climate talks (COP21) in December 2015.

Power stations like Didcot emit the same CO2 per day as the 20 least polluting countries combined. Although the coal-fired section (Didcot A) was shut down in 2013, and demolished last year because of EU laws limiting emissions, the gas-fired section (Didcot B) is still running today.

Says the RTP website: “While communities around the country have stood together against fracking, our government has been making plans to build a new round of gas-fired power stations, and wants to run them on fracked shale gas!

“And, despite the fact that we need to keep global gas reserves in the ground, if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change, corporate lobbyists are now pushing hard to scrap the EU legislation designed to reduce emissions across Europe! Come and tell them NO WAY and take direct action to shut down the industry. Didcot power station is a half-demolished monument to the unfinished job of kicking out dirty fossil fuels from the UK’s energy mix. Let’s finish the job!”

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5. Action Camp and Climate Games in Netherlands

aseed

Aseed Europe action camp, near Amsterdam, Netherlands, July 1-8

An action camp is being organised near Amsterdam by Aseed (Action for Solidarity Environment Equality and Diversity). Says its website: “Our current agriculture system is one of the world’s largest sources of greenhouse gases emission, especially meat production and deforestation. Industrial agriculture is addicted to fossil fuels and soil erosion and depletion increase the effects of climate change.

“In order to fulfill one of our most basic need in the long term, food production must become sustainable. The action camp will help the participants to focus on this goal and to make local, sustainable food production more widespread.”

The second edition of the Climate Games will be happening on July 4th in the same area, with the aim of “playing around some of the major polluters in Amsterdam’s port”.

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6. Frackanpada

International anti-fracking camp, Euskal Herria, July 13-19

Frack camp

The Frackanpada is an international protest camp against fracking that will take place this summer in Euskal Herria (Basque Country), called by the local movement against fracking (Fracking Ez) and with the support of a committed team of people based in different European countries.

Says the website: “There are various objectives. The first one is to bring together the people currently fighting and those interested to join the struggle against fracking in different places, to share experiences and exchange practices. It aims also to be a meeting place between struggles against fracking and those other related to the defence of the land and others such as against austerity and for a just and sustainable society…”

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7. Degrowth summer school

degrowth summer school
A lesson for today – all of this must end

Degrowth Summer School, Germany, August 9-14

The Degrowth Summer School will take place in the Rhineland lignite-mining area in the run-up to the Climate Camp (below). Says the website: “We want to reveal the necessity for a radical economic and societal change of our energy- and resource-intensive lifestyles and discuss concrete solutions and alternatives.”

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8. Rhineland disobedience

klimacamp

Climate Camp in Germany – mass civil disobedience, August 14-16

The group says: “In a big colourful action of civil disobedience we will obstruct the exploitation of lignite (soft coal) with many hundreds of people. Thus we will resist one of the crucial root causes of climate change. We will use a variety of actions, about which we will communicate in an open and reliable way. Let’s make the Rhineland the focal point of a strong and powerful anti-coal-movement!”

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9. Earth First! Summer Gathering

EF!SG15poster-small

Earth First! Summer gathering, Peak District, England, August 19-24

The gathering is billed as “five days of skills sharing for grassroots ecological action” revolving around the struggle against fracking, new roads and lots more, with a particular emphasis on community-based campaigns.

It is “a chance for people and groups from across the country and beyond to get together to network, share practical skills, ideas and inspirations to help our actions and campaigns be as strategic and effective as possible “.

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10. Books celebrate nature mystic

Salt cover completeJefferies cover complete

Two classic books celebrating a visionary English nature writer have been published in new editions by Winter Oak.

As a companion piece to Richard Jefferies’ 1883 book The Story of My Heart: My Autobiography, there is a fascinating analysis of Jefferies’ work by another neglected genius of the Victorian age.

Henry S. Salt’s 1894 study Richard Jefferies: His Life and His Ideals, sparked some controversy at the time as Salt – a campaigner for animal rights, vegetarianism and socialism – used it to claim Jefferies for one of his own, highlighting the social radicalism and nature-based spirituality that increasingly marked his subject’s later writing.

With wit and erudition he demolishes the conservative Victorian presentation of Jefferies as a mere chronicler of traditional country life and reveals him as a flawed yet inspirational figure whose best works were “unsurpassed as prose poems by anything which the English language contains”.

Salt writes of Jefferies: “He was a pagan, a pantheist, a worshipper of earth and sea, and of the great sun ‘burning in the heaven’; he yearned for a free, natural, fearless life of physical health and spiritual exaltation, and for a death in harmony with the life that preceded it.”.

This new 2015 edition includes a preface by Paul Cudenec, analysing the connections between the thought of Salt and Jefferies. Cudenec also contributes the preface to The Story of My Heart, Jefferies’ masterpiece of prose-poetry, in which he expresses his sublime yearning not just for connection with nature but for spiritual transcendence. Cudenec, from a contemporary environmentalist viewpoint, explores the significance of Jefferies’ work against a backdrop of disillusionment with industrial civilization and a cultural urge for the regeneration of human society.

For more information go to our books page

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11. Acorninfo

International protests are being staged against the ongoing repression of anarchists by the Spanish state (see Acorn 6). On March 30, another 38 people were arrested by police under the banner of “Operation Piñata“, a continuation of the notorious “Operation Pandora”. The raids were carried out amidst a flurry of propaganda making false claims of “terrorist” activities. One solidarity protest is being held in Brighton on Sunday April 12, 6pm at the Clocktower, North Street. “Muerte al estado y viva la anarquia!”

pinata
A banner drop in Brussels

* * *

The Landworkers’ Alliance (LWA) are celebrating Via Campesina’s International day of Peasant Struggle with a “Reclaim Our Food System” protest in Suffolk, England. They say: “This year we are targeting British Sugar PLC to expose the inequality and problems inherent in our industrial food system. Government support of big agri-businesses, like British Sugar PLC, threatens the health of our communities and the quality of our environment”. Meet outside the Bury St Edmunds Railway Station, 1pm on Wednesday April 29. Free coach from London.

British Sugar factory in Bury St Edmunds
Health threat – the British Sugar plc factory in Bury St Edmunds

* * *

Around 150 people tore down sections of the 8ft-tall spiked fence surrounding the Aylesbury occupation and other blocks of flats on the abandoned South London estate, reports rabble.org.uk. Dramatic video footage of the intensification of this local housing struggle can be seen online. Meanwhile, an anti-gentrification protest is being staged in Brixton, south London, on Saturday April 25 at 12 noon in Coldharbour Lane.

brixton-blockade

* * *

An excellent new video-poem with a deeply radical message has gone online. Inspired by the tradition of exorcism in Beat poetry, Kali Exorcism deploys text, sound and imagery to invoke the purgative energies of Kali so as to cleanse the world of the military-industrial complex and the state of perpetual warfare that the system requires. The poem also features in a new collection, ECOZOA, by Helen Moore published by Permanent Publications.

kali

* * *

What sort of politicians call for a “new model for development and growth” and can only contemplate a raise in the minimum wage that “can be designed in a manner that is consistent with improvements in competitiveness”? Yep, it’s those radical leftists from Syriza, now governing Greece – the quotes come directly from a recent document outlining their proposed reforms.

syriza

* * *

“The radical environmental movement is stuck in a rut, trapped within a space of increasing contradictions as leftist groups and large NGOs try to manage dissent”. That’s the provocative statement made in an article, which can be read online, from Black Seed, the US green anarchist publication. Issue 3 is soon due out in print.

blackseed2

* * *

Reclaim the Beats – join the Fuck Parade! This is the Mayday invitation from the London anarchists of Class War, who promise at 12V multi rig street party at 1 Commercial Street, London, from 6pm on Friday May 1.

fuckparade

* * *

The next national meeting of the Anarchist Action Network will be on Saturday April 18, from 12 noon to 5pm, at Freedom Bookshop, Angel Alley, 84b Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX. Email anarchistactionnetwork@riseup.net for more info.

aan logo

* * *

Acorn quote: “From earth and sea and sun, from night, the stars, from day, the trees, the hills, from my own soul – from these I think”. Richard Jefferies, The Story of My Heart

Richard Jefferies

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The Acorn – 6

acornmastheadnew

Number 6


In this issue:

  1. Highways to hell
  2. Degrowth – real anti-capitalism
  3. State’s war on anti-fracking movement
  4. Frankfurt – a firsthand account
  5. To Hell With Culture
  6. Acorninfo

1. Highways to hell

"A long term and sustainable benefit to the environment”? Roadbuilding in East Sussex.
“A long term and sustainable benefit to the environment”? Roadbuilding in Sussex, England.

The photo above shows Hollington Valley ‘Local Wildlife Site’ near Hastings in East Sussex on March 26 2015. It was posted online by the eco-action group Combe Haven Defenders to show the grim devastation caused by roadbuilding – in this case the Bexhill-Hastings Link Road.

Meanwhile, we are told that “England’s largest road investment programme for a generation” will be “a long term and sustainable benefit to the environment”.

How appropriate that the new official body Highways England is being launched on April 1! You’d have to be a complete April Fool not to see right through the glossy verbiage in its “Delivery Plan” from which these weasel words are taken.

All the smooth talk about making roads safer and reducing congestion is a barely disguised cover for its real mission of expanding capitalist infrastructure and thus increasing private profit at the expense of the public and the environment.

Hastings2
Supporting economic growth in the Sussex countryside

Readers of The Acorn will not be surprised to learn that number one on the Highways England list of “strategic outcomes” is “supporting economic growth”.

Its brochure adds: “We will do this by modernising the network to relieve congestion and reduce delays, helping businesses to grow, encouraging investment, creating jobs and opening up new areas for development.”

The last phrase here is important. “Opening up new areas for development” is in fact the opposite of relieving congestion and involves increasing the whole spiral of congestion, pollution, environmental destruction and climate change by converting yet more beautiful green fields and woodlands into ugly concrete and tarmac.

This is what new roads are about, everywhere in the world. For instance, the recent Russian proposals for a 12,000-mile east-west motorway (which would theoretically link the UK to the USA by road) not only go hand in hand with plans for new oil and gas pipelines, but have also been given the give-away name of the “Trans-Eurasian Belt Development”.

trans-siberian-road
Opening up the world for “development”

Highways England is proud of “working closely with Local Enterprise Partnerships and other local partners and stakeholders” to “identify current and future constraints to economic growth”. Like the countryside, perhaps?

In Acorn 4 we examined the Local Enterprise Partnership for parts of southern England, the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership, and how its connections to the arms industry and global construction businesses fitted in nicely with its commitment to promoting their interests under the mantle of “economic growth”.

We also exposed how it has admitted that “sustainable transport” schemes do not necessarily have to involve either transport or sustainability and that it was considering one such project, in Worthing, that is blatantly nothing more than a make-over for a town centre shopping centre.

Not only does Highways England play the same deceitful game by claiming its programme will result in “An Improved Environment – where our activities ensure a long term and sustainable benefit to the environment” but, to add insult to injury, the list of its “sustainable” projects actually includes none other than the entirely phoney scheme in Worthing!

motorway1
Highways to hell

See also:

Infrastructure is the enemy

Profit before the planet

Battle of Hastings

Road fight is back on

The road to corporate profits

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2. Degrowth – real anti-capitalism

The Only Sustainable Growth is Degrowth

“Economic growth” has replaced “progress” as the term with which industrial capitalism likes to justify its life-destroying rampage.

What the two have in common is that they are both meant to be undeniable facts of life. Within the capitalist/neoliberal mindset, it is a “given” that we need economic growth, as if it were in some way essential to our survival, like sunlight, fresh air or clean water.

This assumption is sadly sometimes also accepted by “radicals”, who fail to challenge this overall capitalist framework and focus instead on making the existing industrial system “fairer” or more “democratic”.

An alternative to this mental trap is degrowth (known elsewhere as décroissance, decrescita, decreixement and decrecimiento). Degrowth is a movement of ideas that “can trace its roots back to the anti-industrialist trends of the 19th century, developed in Great Britain by John Ruskin, William Morris and the Arts and Crafts Movement (1819–1900), in the United States by Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), and in Russia by Leo Tolstoy (1828–1911).” (Wikipedia)

Degrowth rejects all forms of productivism (the belief that economic productivity and growth is the purpose of human organisation). It rejects the capitalist idea of “sustainable development”, which it sees as an oxymoron, as any development based on growth in a finite and environmentally stressed world is inherently unsustainable.

It is “a downscaling of production and consumption that increases human well-being and enhances ecological conditions and equity on the planet. It calls for a future where societies live within their ecological means, with open, localised economies and resources more equally distributed through new forms of democratic institutions” and proposes “a shrinking of the economic system to leave more space for human cooperation and ecosystems”. (degrowth.org)

Of course, within the degrowth movement there are differences of strategy. Some, for example, might think that the capitalist system might somehow be persuaded to dissolve itself, or that it will allow its phoney “democratic” apparatus to divest it of its power. Others fear that a more confrontational attitude will be necessary to save the planet…

décroissance

See also:

The end of endless growth

French resistance to concrete future

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3. State’s war on anti-fracking movement

The British state is going all-out to protect the fracking industry
The British state is going all-out to protect the fracking industry

Sinister signs are emerging that the British state is preparing to use the full weight of its repressive power to try to crush the growing anti-fracking movement on behalf of the business interests which really control our “democratic” society.

The threat is a response to growing support for the anti-fracking struggle, and increasing scepticism about the fracking industry’s corporate spin and its PR strategy of insisting that new sites are purely conventional and that no fracking will in fact take place – see, for instance, this local website in West Sussex.

One indication of the state’s hardline approach comes from the Network for Police Monitoring, which has warned that “police see opposition to fracking as the most significant public order issue in the coming year and are actively preparing for it”.

Another indication comes from a letter issued by government ministers urging local authorities to take a strong line against “unauthorised traveller sites, protest camps and squatters” – including, of course, anti-fracking protest camps.

There is an aspect absurd to this statement in that the ministers claim camps might “harm the local environment” – unlike fracking or roadbuilding, presumably! But there is also a sinister side to their message to all council leaders, police and crime commissioners and police chief constables. Revealing the real attitude of those in power towards the rest of us, they instruct their underlings in the state system: “Public bodies should not gold plate human rights”.

Warning: the British state will not "gold plate" your human rights
Warning: the British state will not “gold plate” your human rights

Netpol explored police attitudes towards the anti-fracking movement following a Supreme Court ruling that the taking and retention of the personal data of 90-year-old Brighton anti-militarist campaigner John Catt was lawful.

It says this may have significant consequences for the surveillance of political activism, since the judgment grants extensive discretion to the police in the operation of police databases, and in the collection of intelligence related to ‘domestic extremism’ or other protest activity. “It is, in short, judicial approval for the mass surveillance of UK political activism”, they warn.

To illustrate the point, Netpol sets out a scenario where local people set up an anti-fracking campaign in a rural village close to a drilling of a proposed new exploratory shale gas well:

Nationally, the police have identified opposition to fracking as a significant public order issue and so believe there is a likelihood of local protests outside the drilling site, though they do not know what form this might take.

In order to assess the risk that any protest might include some degree of obstruction of the site entrance or the public highway, senior officers decide to gather information through overt surveillance on all members of the campaign to establish its size, who is most active and most influential and what other groups, particularly undefined environmental ‘extremists’, local people identified as organisers are in contact with.

This involves officers attending a village hall meeting and noting what has been said, filming everyone as they leave, intimidating home visits to identified ‘leaders’ and logging the movements of activists’ vehicles as they go to and from the village. None of the people under surveillance has a criminal record – few have ever been involved in a campaign before – but this self-evident invasion of their privacy is justified as necessary “for legitimate policing purposes”.

As the surveillance expands from weeks to months, it is not long before the details of almost everyone over 16 in this close-knit local community has been added to the National Special Branch Intelligence System.

Conclude Netpol: “Alarmingly, our work alongside activists in the growing opposition to extreme energy extraction suggests this scenario may soon become entirely realistic.”

Meanwhile, anti-frackers in Bristol have launched a Solidarity Appeal to help their ongoing battle. They say: “Environmental defenders have recently incurred exceptional outgoings of more than a thousand pounds in the continued battle to stop big business destroying our planet. They need your help urgently”. Contributions can be made here.

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4. Frankfurt – a firsthand account

Torched
March 18 in Frankfurt

Following the reports in Acorn 5 of the dramatic anti-capitalist protests in Frankfurt, focused on the official opening of the European Central Bank’s new HQ, this useful firsthand account has been published on rabble.org.uk

From 5am on the morning of the 18th an estimated 6,000 people began marching on the ECB from different corners of Frankfurt. Activists had been organised into ‘fingers’, each with their own strategy to disrupt and blockade the ECB. 10,000 police, armed with pepper spray, tear gas and water cannons were concentrated around the bank.

As the fingers moved toward the ECB, banks, government buildings and shops were targeted. Paint bombs were thrown at the UBS building, windows were smashed at the local council building, Hilton Hotel and Sparkasse Bank. Slogans painted on the walls gave a clear message. ‘Smash Capitalism’ was written on buildings across Frankfurt. One person had written ‘The empire is dying’, and an advertising billboard for Intimissi underwear that objectified women was defaced with the words ‘Smash Patriarchy’. Police who came close while all this was going on were warned off by a hail of rocks.

As people got closer to the ECB, anything that could be moved was dragged into the road to blockade the area around the bank and prevent police movements. A building site was dismantled to create a strong barricade close to Ost Bahnhof metro station. Police who drove close to the crowd constructing the barricade soon thought better of it, and drove away at breakneck speed. A nearby road was blocked by an abandoned police car, which was set alight. The barricade was further strengthened by the torching of a luxury car.

Police responded by firing tear gas, charging at the crowd, punching and kicking demonstrators and kettling. Almost 400 people were held in a cordon and at least 17 people were arrested. One of the arrestees, Federico Annibale, a student from SOAS in London, has been in custody in Frankfurt since Wednesday. According to the NoTroika website he has not seen the evidence against him and has not yet been charged.

Despite police repression, people managed to set fire to dozens of police vehicles and set up burning barricades around the city centre.

burning barricade

By 11am riots had begun to abate, protesters danced on the streets at a sound truck at the end of a bridge close to the ECB, while police water cannons kept watch. The day ended with a colourful 25,000 strong anti-capitalist march through Frankfurt.

So, what is the significance of the Frankfurt riots? First of all, they are an effective example of propaganda by deed. The images broadcast around the world from the streets of Frankfurt may have brought a little hope to those suffering under the Europe’s austerity regime, to those ready to join the struggle for a different society. They send a message that people are, once again, ready to resist. They may also be the first step in a new wave of international resistance to capitalism.

On March 18th, thousands of German activists were joined by people from Italy, Greece, France, Ireland, the UK, the US, the Netherlands, Belgium, Turkey and Spain. Many of the international activists had come in large contingents, the size of which has not been seen since the heyday of international summit mobilisations. Those of us present on the day got a taste of what it is like to take part in a truly transnational demonstration, to make an impact despite the thousands of cops pitted against us, and gained inspiration and new allies.

Of course, the ECB protests had many of the problems that the international summit mobilisation movement also had. The Blockupy coalition was intentionally wide to maximise numbers, ranging from anti-authoritarians and anarchists to trade union organisations and the Die Linke party. The publicly announced planning meeting on the 17th, attended by over a thousand people, was reminiscent of attending the speeches at a traditional left wing rally. The Blockupy coalition felt the need to distance itself from the riots in the media. Ulrich Wilken, a coalition representative said “This is not what we in Blockupy had planned.” but that he “understood” people’s anger at the “policies of impoverishment”. A Blockupy statement later said that “individual actions” were “not responsible” – meaning that some demonstrators’ actions were irresponsible.

DieLinke
Party agenda – Die Linke

These so-called ‘representatives’ of the protests have their own interests at heart: the strengthening of political parties like Die Linke and other European left wing parties, in the wake of the success of Syriza in Greece. Those of us who want to see a non-hierarchical movement aimed at dismantling the capitalist system from below and creating alternatives which challenge all forms of oppression must be on our guard against our efforts being channelled into building popularity for these parties, which will not change the system and will only lead to further disappointments and failures for those who want to see real change.

Transnational resistance against capitalism needs to transcend the old cycle of counter-summits to create real solidarity between those resisting, to mobilise internationally to support local struggles, and to consider how a temporary show of resistance, as happened in Frankfurt, can make room for more permanent spaces from which to explore how to create new worlds free from capitalism and oppression.

If we are going to effectively resist capitalism, a system which defies national borders to dominate the world we live in today, we need strong local struggles, to challenge the system wherever we are and prevent further destruction of the earth and our communities by the endless drive for profit. But it is also necessary for us to see how these struggles are connected together, to get to know our allies living across borders and to recognise the power we have when we join each other. Let’s hope that the events in Frankfurt last week will spark a new wave of transnational resistance to capitalism which will strengthen our movements, reclaim space to create alternatives and inspire others to join the struggle.

"Conquer capitalism!"
“Conquer capitalism!”

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5. To Hell With Culture

readpostersmall

The first Brighton screening of Huw Wahl’s film To Hell With Culture is being organised by Sussex Anarchists at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, at 7.30pm on Tuesday April 7. The film will be introduced on the evening by Dr Michael Paraskos, author of Herbert Read: Art and Idealism, among other works.

To Hell With Culture is an inspiring portrait of the life and work of Herbert Read (1893-1968), one of the most influential art and literary theorists of modernism active in the first half of the twentieth century. He was also an anarchist, being directly involved in the movement both before and after the Second World War and penning some important contributions to anarchist philosophy.

Despite his passion for modernist culture, Read remained deeply attached to a rural English way of life threatened by the machineries of capitalism, declaring: “Deep down my attitude is a protest against the fate that has made me a poet in an industrial age”.

The free screening follows on from the Sussex Anarchists group meeting at 6pm. All welcome.

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6. Acorninfo

Never Mind The Ballots…It’s The 7th Bristol Anarchist Bookfair! The event is being held from 11am to 6pm on Saturday April 25, 2015, at  Trinity Centre Trinity Rd, Bristol BS2 0NW, with a Radical History Zone nearby at Hydra Bookshop. The bookfair comes just 13 days before the British general election and local elections and organisers promise: “There won’t be a single lying, corrupt, austerity-enforcing, media-spinning politician in sight”. More info at bristolanarchistbookfair.org

Bristol bookfair poster

* * *

Two chapters of the new Invisible Committee book To Our Friends have now been posted online in English, ahead of its actual publication. The latest released text is called Let’s Disappear, and stresses that revolutionaries should not fall into the trap of seeing the ‘population’ as something other than themselves, as something that has to be influenced or harnessed in some way, as the state itself does. They remind us: “We are the ‘hearts and minds’ that must be conquered. We are the ‘crowds’ that are to be controlled”. The previously-released chapter is called Fuck Off Google.

toourfriendscover

* * *

A general strike is being staged in France on Thursday April 9 against the new Macron law, with workers and students mobilising to block buildings and infrastructure and take to the streets in large numbers. The law drawn up by economics minister Emmanuel Macron is all about encouraging our old friend “economic growth”. The 106 articles in the Macron Law provide further proof, as if any were needed, of the ruling French Socialist Party’s neoliberal agenda. Working hours are to be increased, with Sunday working normalised in the way it already is in the UK, and bosses’ powers strengthened. As ever, though, the French people are ready to put up a fight!

9avril

* * *

A draconian clamp-down on dissent and resistance is being launched by the Spanish state. On March 26 three controversial laws were approved in the Spanish Congress. The Penal Code, the new Anti-Terror Law and the Law on Citizen Safety, scheduled to come into effect on July 1, 2015, pose a severe threat to freedom of expression in the streets and on the internet. For instance, there will be fines of up to 30,000€ for “crimes” such as “photographing or recording police”, “peaceful disobedience to authority”, “occupying banks as means of protest”, or “not formalizing a protest”. Online activism is also targeted, with jail sentences of between three months and a year threatened for publishing “slogans or messages” or “inciting any offence of disorderly conduct” including “disturbing the public peace”. The state’s definition of “terrorism” is widened to include hacking with the goal of disturbing the public peace. More information at revolution-news.com. The new laws follow Operation Pandora in December, in which anarchists were attacked by the Spanish state under the guise of an “anti-terrorist” operation.

Solidarity with Spanish anarchists
Solidarity with anarchists targeted by the Spanish state

* * *

Following a fire which affected the premises of anarchist publisher AK Press in Oakland, USA, it is making an appeal for funds to put right the damage.The target is a hefty $150,000, but $40,000 had already been raised in the first four days.

Fire damage at AK Press in the USA
Fire damage at AK Press in the USA

* * *

Finally, a couple of online video recommendations from The Acorn. This documentary looks at direct action protests against the DSEI arms fair in London – both the event and the opposition will be happening again in September this year. And this film shows a feisty student protest against neoliberalism in Quebec.

* * *

Acorn quote: “Dracula, king of the vampires, is the perfect fin-de-siècle cultural horror: something living hundreds of years yet dead, something dead but undead, draining the vitality of the living, like European Civilization itself”. Richard Noll, The Jung Cult: The Origins of a Charismatic Movement

dracula

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The Acorn – 5

acornmastheadnew

Number 5


In this issue:

  1. Frankfurt and the flames of resistance
  2. Why attack the ECB?
  3. “Insurrection has been waiting to break out”
  4. The road to corporate profits
  5. The Brighton Connection – how Green is your valley?
  6. Acorninfo

1. Frankfurt and the flames of resistance

A burning police car in Frankfurt on #18M
A burning police car in Frankfurt on #18M

A powerful message rose from the streets of Frankfurt on Wednesday March 18 2015 – a new phase of international anti-capitalist resistance has begun.

As European Central Bank president Mario Draghi officially opened its billion-pound HQ as if nothing was happening, the city outside was like a war zone, full of razor wire and military-style police.

The successful #Blockupy gatecrashing of the Euro-bankers’ launch party started as early as 6am. Roads and bridges were blocked with burning barricades. Cop cars were torched, police covered in paint, banks and other symbols of the capitalist system attacked.

burning barricade
Burning barricades on the streets of Frankfurt
battle
Resistance on the streets
flare
Confronting the cops
"Conquer capitalism!"
“Conquer capitalism!”
Whose streets?
Whose streets?
ecb-blockupy2
Pink as a pig
Torched
Torched

German police – 10,000 of them brought in from all over the country – were even more brutal than ever. Protesters were beaten with batons, kicked in the head, attacked with pepper spray, dragged along the ground by their hair, as well as having tear gas and water cannon fired at them as the state’s thugs tried and failed to break the spirit of defiance on the streets.

Cops
On the march to protect the bankers
Robocops on the attack
Robocops on the attack
The graffiti says it all
The graffiti says it all

The day ended with a massive demonstration through the city centre, of some 20,000 people. Observers described it as much larger than expected and the biggest of its kind since the anti-G8 protests in Heiligendamm in 2007.

demo
The massive #Blockupy demonstration against capitalism
bank paint
A bank is targeted

As we explained in Acorn 2 and Acorn 4, activists from all over Europe headed to the continent’s financial capital to show their anger at the ECB, the Troika and the whole neoliberal dictatorship being imposed everywhere – the Italian contingent was particularly visible, but it went deeper than that.

And it is here perhaps that the true significance of #18M can be found. Around 15 years ago, battles like those in Seattle, Genoa and the City of London marked the moment that a global anti-capitalist movement forced, by its very existence, a general recognition that we live in a capitalist society – before that, the word was regarded as some kind of propagandistic communist term to describe what used to be called “the free world”.

The phase of massive anti-summit protests came to an end, although opposition of course continued.

The authorities were no doubt hoping that the international movement would itself fade away and that radicals would retreat into the detail of their own local struggles and forget that these form part of a bigger picture.

But that hasn’t happened. The awareness of the existence of a neoliberal capitalist system has gone hand in hand with the awareness of a network of international resistance – informal but inter-connected in a myriad of ways.

Local struggles against specific examples of capitalist oppression will feed in and strengthen that resistance. And the joyful empowerment of being part of that wider resistance will in turn fortify and sustain the local struggle.

The signs are all there that we are entering a spiralling resurgence of the international anti-capitalist movement, of which Frankfurt is just the beginning.

Germany Protests ECB
A festival of revolt
Frankfurt - a new phase in the struggle against capitalsim
Frankfurt – a new phase in the struggle against capitalism

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2. Why attack the ECB?

“Through the Troika, the ECB has ordered living standards to be lowered and social services axed, sending millions into unemployment. The ECB has pushed the bailouts onto governments whilst at the same time it has done everything in its power to provide liquidity to insolvent banks, leaving private finance off the hook, rewarding and aiding it wherever possible“.

Christina Laskaridisby in “False Dilemmas: A Critical Guide to the Euro Zone Crisis”, published by Corporate Watch

Euro sign

“The ECB plays an important role in the infamous Troika, responsible for harsh cuts, growing unemployment, and even the breakdown of healthcare in Greece and other EU countries. Along with the EU Commission and the EU Council, the ECB has promoted austerity, privatization, and precarity. They have even had no hesitation in blackmailing elected governments in order to enforce their attacks on the social rights of the people“.

Blockupy call-out

Euro sign

“The nation as such is a dead letter. The State can do nothing more than set the table for the dreary meal dished out by the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Commission: the Holy Trinity known as the Troika. The Troika, not content simply to oversee or even directly administer the budgetary functioning of entire States, seeks also to dictate the very conditions of our lives, reducing the latter to a simple question of ‘human resource management’. The impression of being dominated, overwhelmed, and finally altogether crushed by a self-appointed clique of ‘Core European’ bureaucrats has become one of the more salient features of the present.”

Destroika

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3. “Insurrection has been waiting to break out”

rioting-in-England
England, 2011

A full-scale global uprising against neoliberal capitalism has been brewing for some time now and waiting for the opportunity to break out.

That is the view of French writing collective The Invisible Committee in their latest book, A nos amis.

They write of an increasing feeling of something happening, the commonly-shared intuition that “an insurrection can break out at any moment, for whatever reason, in any country and lead anywhere”.

This, they insist, is not just wishful thinking on the part of the world’s dissidents – there really is a pattern emerging: “What has been happening in the world since 2008 isn’t an incoherent series of random eruptions in sealed national spaces, but one big historical sequence”.

So who are the Invisible Committee? In 2007 a group of radicals in France, calling themselves le comité invisible, brought out a book called L’Insurrection qui vient or, in English, The Coming Insurrection.

A lot has happened since then. For a start, the waves created by their writing led to a group of people, who became known as the Tarnac Nine/Ten, being arrested on dubious charges of sabotaging high-speed rail lines, with the French state claiming they were also the authors of the pamphlet.

The wider picture of what has become of the struggle against neoliberalism, and where it might go from here, is what is addressed in their follow-up book, reviewed in English here.

Representatives of The Invisible Committee will visiting the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, at 6pm on Saturday March 21, for what is believed to be the only public talk on the new book they are giving in either France or the UK.

COWLEY

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4. The road to corporate profits

arundel bypass
Arundel bypass

“There is an investment case for a dual carriageway bypass at Arundel to the south of the existing A27”.

That is the conclusion of official “feasibility” studies into the disastrous proposal to drive a bypass of the current bypass across wetlands and woods near the West Sussex town (see Acorn 1)

While the reports were commissioned by the Department for Transport, the actual analysis was carried out by Parsons Brinckerhoff, a subsidiary of massive multinational corporation WSP Global.

If this outfit sounds familiar, that’s because it featured heavily in Acorn 4. In that special investigation, we exposed the way that “sustainable transport” funding was at risk of being diverted into an irrelevant town centre refurbishment scheme.

We pointed out that Martin Heffer, the Coast to Capital board member focusing on infrastructure issues, is in fact a Parsons Brinckerhoff/WSP Global employee on secondment to the Department of Transport.

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

There is clearly a link between the promotion of fake “sustainable transport” proposals and the promotion of roadbuilding. Without any real alternative proposals to beat congestion, there is nothing to get in the way of the “need” to build new roads, the main profit-generating arteries of capitalist infrastructure.

Once again, the mantra of “economic growth” lies behind the proposal for an Arundel bypass-bypass, creating a spiral of justification that we would call “never-ending” if it wasn’t bound to end one day in environmental disaster or, more cheerfully, the end of this wretched industrial-capitalist system.

So the fact that this part of Sussex is “planning for significant growth” and that “over 60,000 new homes and substantial employment development are expected within the coastal study area” is used as an excuse for roadbuilding.

And when the new roads attract more lorries and more commuter sprawl and traffic, the resulting congestion will be used as the excuse for yet another round of roadbuilding! The Arundel bypass-bypass-bypass perhaps.

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5. The Brighton Connection – how Green is your valley?

The Green Party's Jason Kitcat, leader of Brighton Council
The Green Party’s Jason Kitcat, leader of Brighton Council

An interesting story was run by Brighton’s Fig website in response to our Coast to Capital investigation in Acorn 4.

This highlights Coast to Capital’s involvement in Brighton Council’s £8m Valley Gardens scheme.

Says Fig: “Despite the project being touted by the Greens who run the council as being about ‘sustainable development’, the council itself admits the controversial scheme wouldn’t just benefit the environment – or even transport: it would also deliver ‘better business links, improved retail frontages, new offices – and encourage economic growth’.”

A council document reveals the usual vision of the world seen through business-tinted glasses: “The City Region has much of the talent and many of the enterprise and liveability factors to become a Super City Region. But, to achieve full potential these must be converted into real ambition and to marry creativity to a strong technology base.”

Displaying the usual capitalist disdain for education as anything but a means of making money, it describes the two universities, Sussex and Brighton are “central to achieving ambition” and as “two of the most significant ‘anchor’ businesses.”

Perhaps this is all to be expected in our capitalist world, but is not a little surprising that this approach is being followed by a Green Party administration?

Not really – after all, the Coast to Capital board includes none other than the Greens’ Brighton council leader Jason Kitcat!

kitcatcoastsite
Jason Kitcat on the Coast to Capital website

Kitcat’s “Linked.in” entry proudly declares that he has been “one of the public sector board members for the Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership” since as long ago as May 2012.

So presumably he sees no contradiction at all in Coast to Capital’s relentless focus on “economic growth” above all else (see Acorn 4) and the comment on his own party’s official website that “we currently have an economic system that prioritises growth in company profits over the wellbeing of society”. That’s politics for you!

A bizarre footnote to this story. While revisiting Coast to Capital’s website a week or so ago, after publishing our investigation in Acorn 4, we noticed that Mr Kitcat’s details had disappeared from its pages. What had happened? Had he resigned? Our researcher’s enquiries led to reassurances from both Mr Kitcat and Coast to Capital that he was still a board member. Coast to Capital’s reply, in particular, was admirably prompt, explaining that “there was an error on the ‘Coast to Capital Board’ web page that has now been amended”. Indeed it had! Mr Kitcat was back on the Coast to Capital site as if nothing had happened!

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6. Acorninfo

Two protests against police spies targeting political dissidents are being staged in Cardiff and London next week. A number of activists are taking legal action against South Wales Police and the Metropolitan Police in an attempt to hold the system to account for the activities of Mark “Marco” Jacobs, who claimed to be just another anarchist in the south Wales activist scene, but was actually an undercover cop. The campaigners say that since they first filed an application in court, police lawyers have attempted to obstruct justice by giving a “Neither Confirm Nor Deny” defence. On Wednesday March 25 they will be in the Royal Courts of Justice in London attempting to strike out this non-defence. The first protest will be outside Cardiff Central Police Station in King Edward VIII Avenue, Cardiff on Tuesday March 24, 6pm to 8pm. Then there will be a solidarity picket outside the Royal Courts of Justice in The Strand, London, WC2 (Holborn or Temple tube) on Wednesday March 25 from 9am to 10am. More info on the South Wales Anarchists website.

swa

* * *

Rebellion has been spreading across the UK’s “gulag archipelago” of migration prisons. Rabble website reported on March 10 that hunger strikes, yard occupations and other protests were taking place in at least six UK detention centres. It said “The protests started last week in Yarl’s Wood (Bedfordshire) and in the Harmondsworth and Colnbrook migration prison complex near Heathrow airport. Today we heard that 50 people were on hunger strike in Tinsley House, with protests also at nearby Brook House, both inside the perimeter of Gatwick Airport. Hunger strike has also started at Moreton Hall (Nottinghamshire). There may well be others.” A convoy of deportation coaches was targeted at Gatwick Airport in West Sussex, said Rabble: “People managed to block the coach convoy and hold one up for a couple of hours, with one person superglued to the windscreen as the coach was stuck in the Gatwick periphery road.” More info at http://rabble.org.uk

Rebellion in Harmondsworth
Rebellion in Harmondsworth

* * *

The Anarchist Action Network will be holding its next network meeting on Saturday March 28 in Newham, London. Open to all except cops and journalists, it will take place between 12 noon and 5pm at The Harold Road Centre, 170 Harold Rd, Upton Park, London E13 0SE. The AAN consists of individuals and autonomous local groups, based in towns and cities across the UK and further afield. In the past it has come together to organise temporary Anarchist spaces in London and Newport and resistance against the G8 and NATO summits. More info at https://www.anarchistaction.net/

aan logo

* * *

Fracking firm Celtique has pulled out of two schemes in West Sussex in an encouraging victory for the anti-fracking resistance. It now says it will not be appealing against refusal of permission for Fernhurst and Wisborough Green (we reported the threat to rural Boxal Bridge in Acorn 3)  However, anti-frackers are still braced for a fight in Billingshurst, where Celtique’s claims of conventional-only plans are belied by the massive razor-wired security fences around their site (see Acorn 2).

fracking victories

* * *

Campaigners are condemning the proposed sell-off of chunks of the Lake District National Park in the north of England. Says Kate Ashbrook of the Open Spaces Society: “A new owner may not have national park purposes at heart but may be driven by the potential commercial benefits to be wrung from the site. We have great sympathy with the park authorities who are suffering slashed budgets and we back the Campaign for National Parks’ battle against the cuts. But it is no solution to flog off land which should be held for the nation”. The sites for sale are Stickle Tarn, Great Langdale (£20,000-£30,000); Baneriggs Wood at White Moss, Grasmere (£110,000-£130,000); Lady Wood at White Moss (£20,000 – £25,000); amenity land with river frontage at Portinscale, Keswick (£8,000-£10,000); shoreline at Blea Brows, Coniston Water (£70,000 – £90,000); Yewbarrow Woods, Longsleddale (£110,000-£130,000); Blue Hill and Red Bank Wood, Ambleside (£100,000-£120,000). Even nature is just another commodity to be bought and sold in our soulless capitalist civilization…

Stickle Tarn - being sold off to private money
Stickle Tarn in the Lake District

* * *

Acorn quote: “The state lies in all languages of good and evil. Whatever it says, it lies – and whatever it has, it has stolen”. Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

friedrich-nietzsche

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