The Acorn – 59

acorn 2019bNumber 59

In this issue:

  1. Stand up to tyranny!
  2. The Great Battle for the Future
  3. Smart means dead
  4. Tracksuits, traumas and class traitors
  5. Henry David Thoreau: an orgrad inspiration
  6. Acorninfo

1.  Stand up to tyranny!

AUG 29 POSTER

Hope is rising that people are finally seeing through the neoliberal corona-lies and are ready to stand up to the 21st century tyranny of newnormalism.

With so many sold-out phoney rebels on the “left” openly backing the new totalitarianism, other people, from a wide range of backgrounds, have had to step forward and urge resistance to the nightmarish global dictatorship.

Many of these are rallying behind the banner of StandUpX (see Resistance Update and Acorn 58) which, as this article explains, has seen numbers on its protests shoot up from dozens to thousands. “The numbers are continuing to increase rapidly – hence why more events are taking place all across the UK”.

StandUPX logo StandUpX say on their website: “We are living in a state of authoritarian control. We do not consent to Government social distancing measures infringing upon public and private life. We do not accept enforced masks. We do not accept a dictatorship of lockdowns, threats of lockdowns, and Covid Ghettos.

“Forced, coerced and mandated vaccinations violate the principles of the Nuremberg Code which states ‘any preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free and informed consent of the person concerned.’

“Humanity will be a mass science experiment profiting billions for pharmaceutical companies and their partners including Bill Gates.

“Tracking & Tracing is a total violation of personal privacy and freedom to associate. It is a digital Gestapo.

“To add to this oppression, the government is proposing a Health Passport, which is designed to track your health records, purchases and public activities including travel. It will not be temporary. It is the preliminary step to 24/7 tracking via an implantable chip.

“5G is necessary for the infrastructure of 24/7 Surveillance Tracking & Implantable Microchips. This is why our roads are currently being dug up to install the fibre cable network necessary for 5G. This is why trees, which block 5G signals (and help us breathe) are being chopped all over our cities. 5G is lethal to privacy as well as to health. We have no reason to believe 5G is safe”.

The imposition of mask wearing, at a time when the virus has all but disappeared, has already opened a lot of folk’s eyes to the fact that they are being conned.

The fact that masks seem to be intended as a permanent “new normal”, plus the threat of compulsory vaccination and further lockdowns, may prove enough to push thousands of others over the edge and into rebellion.

aug 29 poster2

A big bank holiday weekend of protest is coming up in London.

On Saturday August 29, 12 noon at Trafalgar Square, a huge protest and march is planned by a broad coalition of freedom lovers.

The event is due to be addressed by a number of high-profile doctors who have courageously challenged the official propaganda narrative, including Dr Adil, Professor Dolores Cahill, Dr Andrew Kaufman (live video link) and Dr Kevin Corbet.

Natural nurse Kate Shemirani and Jeremey Corbyn’s brother Piers Corbyn are also lined up to speak.

There will be a video link with the latest mass protest in Germany, where earlier this month as many as a million people took to the streets of Berlin to defy newnormalism.

The very next day, Sunday August 30, a protest has been called for Notting Hill during the famous carnival – 12 noon at Portobello Road.

aug 30 protest

Sunday August 30 will also see a Stop New Normal protest in Bristol, in Castle Park from 12 noon. 

Before then, there will be a ‘Protest to Protect our Children’ in Manchester on Saturday August 22, 1pm at Piccadilly Gardens and a Picnic in the Park n Leeds on Sunday August 23, 2pm in Hyde Park.

leeds protest aug 23

A week after the big weekend in the UK capital, on Saturday September 5, there will be a ‘Stand Up for the Children’ protest starting in Hyde Park, London, at 1pm and marching to the BBC studios.

Smaller weekly StandUpX events are currently being held in Bedford (every Saturday, 3pm, Russell Park), Bournemouth (every Saturday, 2-5pm, Bournemouth Town Hall), Norwich (every Saturday, 1pm, Eaton Park, Chapperfield Gardens) and Sheffield (every Saturday, 12pm, Town Hall Peace Gardens).

For latest info see the StandUpX website at https://www.standupx.info/

North of the border, there will be a ‘Saving Scotland’ March on Holyrood: meet-up near the Scottish parliament in Edinburgh at 1pm on Saturday September 5.

Say organisers: “Deliberate media-managed panic, fear and propaganda made the ‘virus’ seem like it could kill us all. It was a lie!

“End the illegal Coronavirus Act 2020 Tyranny. Scotland is being destroyed! Return our civil liberties”.

march on holyrood

Germany remains the epicentre of the revolt against dictatorship (perhaps because historical memories are still relatively fresh), with even a chief inspector of police speaking out against the global big business coup.

But there have also been reports of signficant protests in Madrid (3,000), the Canary Islands (several hundred) Warsaw (25,000) and Montreal (“thousands”).

madrid protest

A ‘Mask Se Azaadi’ campaign now also seems to be underway in India, with one protester declaring: “We are burning the masks. We will not wear any masks and neither will pay any fines. Because wearing masks leads to the spread of diseases. We are being made to wear masks to shut us up”.

We urge Acorn readers, wherever they are, to cast aside their fears and their ideological insecurities, take the plunge and get involved in the resistance to the newnormalist dictatorship.

As C.J. Hopkins says in an excellent piece on the Off_Guardian site: “It is your responsibility to speak up, and to do whatever else you can, to stop the New Normal future from becoming a reality.

“You will not be rewarded for it. You will be ridiculed and castigated for it. Your New Normal friends will hate you for it. Your New Normal family will forsake you for it. The New Normal police might arrest you for it. It is your responsibility to do it anyway”.

Berlin protest
Every day should be freedom day

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2.  The Great Battle for the Future

peasant revolt

In the Middle Ages, with the outright slavery of the Roman Empire left behind, medieval rebels saw ahead of them a better future, one based on social justice, freedom and local autonomy.

They were on the path leading towards the light, towards genuine social progress rather than to the fake “progress” of technological sophistication and profusion.

But this didn’t go down well with the ruling class, who feared that their power and privilege would be lost for ever.

Instead of escaping from slavery into freedom, our ancestors therefore found themselves engaged in a Great Battle for the Future with the dark forces of tyranny.

Capitalism – the new form taken by malevolent ruling class domination – subjugated our ancestors by cutting them off from their sources of subsistence and autonomy.

Common land was confiscated – enclosed – making self-sufficiency impossible. Food could no longer be freely gathered or hunted, rivers could no longer be fished, wood for fuel could no longer be picked up in the privatised forests.

People were forced into the money system, forced to earn “wages” just to live, forced into factories and workhouses, reduced to craven dependency on the capitalist system.

silvia-federici2
Silvia Federici

In her book Caliban and the Witch, Silvia Federici describes the period as one of “relentless class struggle” in which “the medieval village was the theater of daily warfare”.

“Everywhere masses of people resisted the destruction of their former ways of existence, fighting against land privatization, the abolition of customary rights, the imposition of new taxes, wage-dependence, and the continuous presence of armies in their neighbourhoods, which was so hated that people rushed to close the gates of their towns to prevent soldiers from settling among them”.

In order to impose the New Normal of capitalism on the unwilling people, the power elite used what Federici terms “social enclosure”, a precursor of today’s “social distancing”.

Pubs-closedShe writes: “In pursuit of social discipline, an attack was launched against all forms of collective sociality and sexuality including sports, games, dances, ale-wakes, festivals, and other group-rituals that had been a source of bonding and solidarity among workers”.

“Taverns were closed, along with public baths. Nakedness was penalized, as were many other ‘unproductive’ forms of sexuality and sociality. It was forbidden to drink, swear, curse”.

In another striking parallel with the 2020s (and indeed the 1920s/1930s) the elite tried to create “a new type of individual” – a servile, malleable and thus profitable type.

The primary tool used by the ultra-rich minority to oppress the majority was, of course, the state.

Far from representing some kind of benign collective self-interest, as some absurdly persist in maintaining, the modern state emerged in the 14th century “as the only agency capable of confronting a working class that was regionally unified, armed and no longer confined in its demands to the political economy of the manor”.

Inquisition

Whether claiming to be fighting “heresy”, “witchcraft” or disorder, the ruling elite deployed all the violence and propaganda of its inquisitions, wars and laws to bring the population to heel. And, as we all know to our cost, it won that Great Battle for the Future.

But because its socipathic greed knows no end, because its “growth” is based on ever-increasing profit for the ultra-rich, it can never stop treading us further and further into the toxic industrial dust of its total control.

Today we have reached another key moment in history, when the ruling elite – under the feeble pretext of combatting a flu virus – hopes to essentially return us to the slave status we escaped a thousand years ago.

All its liberal pretence at “democracy” is going out of the window as the brutal reality of elite power becomes clear to those who have eyes to see.

There will be resistance, you can be sure of that, even if the advance disabling of certain potential sources of dissent means it may take a while for rebels to regroup and find their common voice.

Those of us who do resist will be embarking on another Great Battle for the Future.

(The full article can be read here)

orgrad logo

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3. Smart means dead

This is our DIY translation of an article which appears in the July/August 2020 edition of the French-language print journal anarchie! under the title ‘Qui a peur de la mort?

5G mast

The radiant and gleaming future presented to us by the promoters of 5G, ‘a world of infinite possibilities’, has finally revealed itself for what it is: while everyone was locked up in their homes and all dissent was set aside in the name of biopolitics, masts went up all over the place to deliver a new infrastructure with which the powers-that-be aim to do nothing less than transform the whole of society.

5G’s forced entry into our lives cruelly illustrates the fact that neither in conception nor design is it meant to contribute to the well-being of the vast majority who consume it, but that it is instead intended to increase the power of the tiny minority who produce it.

Moreover, if we look back over our shoulders; hasn’t it been the same thing with every new technological advance? From the first weaving looms to motor cars and nuclear energy, how many of these would never have happened if their indisputable necessity for our lives hadn’t been forced on us?

4IR

Considering the enormous means at the disposal of the telecommunicatios industry, which in recent years has come to dominate the political narrative in every corner of the world, you get the impression that every day a war is taking place on the stage of our refusal. Precisely because 5G logically comes across as a negative thing in the eyes of the exploited, since the future it is there to build is that of the dominant class, the system tries to resolve the contradiction by using propaganda, so that people welcome the decisions made for them. But they can’t make people feel satisfied with their lot unless they reduce them to the status of insignficant cogs in a phenomenon over which they have no say.

We are already aware (even if only intuitively) of the effects on our lives of the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ invoked by the most enthusiastic experts: they are with us every day in latent form, bursting into reality each time that we catch a glimpse of another, still bigger, slice of nature eaten up by bulldozers. Each time that we realise that we have got used to the sight of a pylon or a nuclear power station. Each time that we notice to what extent the environment in which we live in is artificial and planned.

Awareness is spreading wider and wider of the fact that a technological future cannot halt the ongoing disaster, but is instead aimed at prolonging it.

masked shoppersInstead of opening up the horizon, it closes it down, trapping us in the eternal present. Instead of pointing to the possibility of living something completely different, it offers at the very most the certainty of surviving by managing the catastrophe.

You’d imagine the myth of ‘progress’ would today be riddled with cutting doubts… but no amount of televisual good faith can now stop people seeing the pile of corpses spat out every day on the other side of the world by the capitalist machine. And in the great cities of the ‘advanced’ (sic) world, the end result of two centuries of unquestionable progress has been an existence which is more locked-down, artificial and desperate than we have ever known before.

Only those who have totally surrendered to misery could contemplate without a feeling of dread the technological cages known as ‘smart homes’, the multiplication of ‘sensing systems’ to watch and record every detail of our movements or the alienation of lives directed by the algorithms of ‘virtual assistants’.

At the end of the day it is not just about 5G or the umpteenth new threat from technology. It is about totally refusing a world based on dominating others, that’s to say on war, on environmental destruction, on paid labour and other abominations, of which technology has become one of the cornerstones.

In truth, all of that – the bombarding of cities and spirits, the extinction both of the wild outdoors and of surges of spontaneity in our domestic lives, the state’s administration of its subjects, or the biopolitical lockdown of an entire population – all of that will only be possible if the internet is available everywhere.

5G connect

That is why their emphasis on ‘connectivity’, both between individuals and between individuals and their environment, can only be understood as reinforcement of domination in every domain.

When they tell us to get closer together online, it is really business and the state that are coming closer to human experience: each interraction that takes place on their network is owned by their economy and power. We are obliged to live our everyday lives as if remotely, via more and more technological intermediaries, which put up a sort of screen between us and reality, dictating to us a certain rhythm, a certain behaviour and above all a certain pre-determined relationship with the world.

What is really at stake here, with the way we are being pushed in the direction in which things are going, even more so with the current acceleration of this process by 5G, is our very capacity to think and act autonomously.

Even as technology imposes itself as universal mediation, it paradoxically distances us from the world, in the sense that it derpives us of the moral and material means to understand it, reinvent it and affect it with our own direct, conscious action.

Indeed, the ‘smart’ concept is nothing other than the paradigm of a city, or dwelling-place, where human beings simply follow the directions provided by algorithms, without feeling the need to interrupt this with their own ideas or spontaneous actions born of their own free will… in other words a completely dead intelligence. An intelligence with no conscience.

robot skull

See also: Resist the Fourth Industrial Repression

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4. Tracksuits, traumas and class traitors

Jan Goodey reviews D. Hunter’s new book, Tracksuits, Traumas and Class Traitors, published by the Classwork Project (2020)

tracksuits

On the back of D. Hunter’s first book, Chav Solidarity (Active 2019), which looked at life on the margins of working class Britain, this latest goes further and adds an additional layer of academic analysis into the, at times harrowing, bargain.

The series of ten essays with academic framing, plus a main narrative section, offer insights into queer methodologies; carceral abolition; class analysis; and auto-ethnography which as a terrain is a good fit for this work: “evocative, emotional, dialoguing and engaging writing…[which is]…closer to literature and art than to science”.

At times there is the temptation to rush the analysis which is interspersed and then rush back to the narrative, don’t, the two are integral.

Hunter’s early years could come straight out of an Alan Clarke drama and bear comparison to books like Alexander Masters’ biography, Stuart a Life Backwards; visceral, tortuous, no-holds barred, real life staring you squarely in the face. Muggings, ultra-violence, rape, robbery, incest, are laid bare and borne in occasionally beautiful, positive and counter-intuitive ways.

In this book, one of Hunter’s aims is to do more justice to the lives he dealt with in the first, which honed in on ‘marginalised’ communities. “I focus on the blood and bone of poor and working class people, and the ways in which the social and cultural context reproduces forms of class power… My writing is in a small way a form of activism.”

This honing down is to a ‘poverty class’ as something “distinctly less than the working class; something made of a group of people who should be stripped of their humanity, undeserving of basic dignity. The people who raised me, the people who I grew up around, the imprisoned, the sectioned, the house-less, the traumatised, those who worked in the illegal economies of sex and drugs, the white trash, and the black and brown inner-city youth”.

fans

The often shocking acts of violence that are documented throughout Tracksuits, Traumas and Class Traitors – acts which are carried out by the author, against him and he as witness – are viewed with recognition of the political, economic and social systems in which they occur – a vital sequitur.

That he’s been given “the space, care and time to focus on recovering, that my behaviours have been anything close to the result of conscious decisions. But it’s this experience that leads me to feel compassion towards the person who has caused me the greatest harm, the legacy of which it’s doubtful I’ll ever recover”.

Here he refers to the patriarch of the family, his grandfather. And it is here we look to the restorative powers of transformative justice (TJ) and its liberatory approach to violence; seeking safety and accountability within families and communities and not alienation, punishment, state violence of prison and policing without. The bitter fruits of industrial capitalism.

Bay Area TJ

We are brought to The Bay Area TJ collective in Oakland California where a pod approach is practised within the community while seeking safety and accountability front, left and centre.

These anarchistic, positive, grassroots, small scale initiatives are all about “entering into dialogues that engage with the inequity in our networks. [It] is vital in our attempts to end the reproduction of carceral and capitalist logics. If we do this, we will be able to create spaces which encourage openness and intimacy, from which we can build deep solidarity with one another”.

A deep solidarity he had rarely with his own father and more often with neighbours: the one rare moment of filial connection, playing football…”he was playing with a desperation to connect with me, to find that paternal bond; instead I imagine he was beating people, he was beating other men in a socially approved way, in a manner that those watching could not take away from him easily. I was playing for that bond, the desperation that coursed through my veins then, that wanted the world and its dog to see us together playing, moving in synchronicity with one another. I wanted that synchronicity, that connection, to last forever. It did not make it past the afternoon”.

And then we get to hear of extraordinary acts of kindness towards D and his family from neighbours– “the man who ran the Jamaican takeaway that gave me the fried chicken… For over four years, he supplied us with fried chicken, hot, rice ‘n’ peas, and many, many dumplings. I could go over there at any point during their opening times and he would supply me with a bag of food to take back to the flat”.

The book’s final segment looks at social work: “As Loïc Wacquant has pointed out,
government programmes, which set out to address poverty or more accurately address the poor, working class, have as their primary function the marking of the poor as pathological, enabling the state to criminalise poverty and the bodies of the poor. This process plays a key role in the stigmatisation of poor and working class people”.

This stigmatisation breeds new exploitation with new forms of media-manufactured class differentiation and antagonism.

Through all of this Hunter’s heart stays embedded in his working class roots and he selflessly seeks “to connect some dots and ensure that everyone who had asked for some cash [from the fruits of his first book] received some, and in some cases, set up regular payments for the duration of the social shutdown. I don’t say this to big myself up, I was in a fortunate position to have enough social capital to connect those with plenty to those with not enough”.

(Jan Goodey is a regular contributor to the Ecologist online)

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5. Henry David Thoreau: an orgrad inspiration

The latest in our serious of profiles from the orgrad website.

Thoreau

“We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us”

Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) was a writer and philosopher who sought and recommended a simple natural life and who spoke out against modern civilization and the violence of the state.

He influenced many political thinkers, including Henry SaltEdward CarpenterLeo Tolstoy and Mohandas Gandhi.

Thoreau’s best-known work is Walden, a description of his attempt to put his thinking into practice by living for more than two years in the woods of his native Massachusetts, USA.

thoreau signHe explained: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived”. (1)

Part of the appeal for him was undoubtedly to be alone, to escape the crowds and babble of the modern world, for which a certain loss of comfort was a price well worth paying: “I would rather sit on a pumpkin and have it to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion”. (2)

Thoreau frequently stressed the importance of living unencumbered by the trappings of the modern world – “Simplify, simplify”, (3) he urged. “Why should we live with such hurry and waste of life?” (4)

It was not just that we did not need these trappings of wealth, but that they were actually bad for us.

He wrote in Walden that most of the luxuries and so-called comforts of life were not at all necessary, but were in fact “positive hinderances to the elevation of mankind” (5) and he added in ‘Civil Disobedience’: “Absolutely speaking, the more money, the less virtue”. (6)

Adi_ShankaraThoreau noted that the wisest of people had historically often lived in the simplest of ways and was convinced that this was all part of their wisdom.

“To be a philosopher is not merely to have subtle thoughts, nor even to found a school, but so to love wisdom according to its dictates, a life of simplicity, independence, magnanimity, and trust. It is to solve some of the problems of life, not only theoretically, but practically”. (7)

On the other hand, the rich had “accumulated dross”, did not know how to get rid of it and had thus “forged their own golden or silver fetters”. (8)

Thoreau was interested in Hindu philosophy and also, in Walden, cites the Taoist wisdom of Chuang Tzu.

He pre-empted René Guénon in his view that the modern world represented a reign of quantity where quality, particularly inner quality, was completely neglected. He noted: “While civilization has been improving our houses, it has not equally improved the men who are to inhabit them”. (9)

Contemporary America “lives too fast” (10) he said. Commerce, communication and transport were all regarded as essential issues, but people were less interested in “whether we should live like baboons or like men”. (11)

railroadThoreau was more than sceptical about the point of industrial progress and all the so-called “modern improvements” it brought with it, writing that “there is an illusion about them; there is not always a positive advance”. (12)

He added: “Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which it was already but too easy to arrive at; as railroads lead to Boston or New York. We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate”. (13)

The much-heralded cable under the Atlantic would, he suggested, only succeed in bringing Americans worthless gossip such as news of the latest illnesses affecting the British Royal Family.

“As if the main object were to talk fast and not to talk sensibly… the man whose horse trots a mile in a minute does not carry the most important messages”. (14)

Twenty years later, John Ruskin was to make the same point when he described the new railway allowing the people of Buxton and Bakewell to rush from one town to the other and back in record time and for no apparent purpose.

railroad workers2

Thoreau was also acutely aware of the human cost of industrialism, including the thousands of human lives lost in the building of the railways, the first major infrastructure of American capitalism.

He wrote: “We do not ride on the railroad; it rides upon us. Did you ever think what those sleepers are that underlie the railroad? Each one is a man, an Irishman or a Yankee man. The rails are laid on them, and they are covered with sand, and the cars run smoothly over them”. (15)

An outspoken opponent of the American institution of slavery, which was not formally abolished until after his death, Thoreau also turned his fire on the “factory system” that had been imported across the Atlantic.

He wrote: “The condition of the operatives is becoming every day more like that of the English, and it cannot be wondered at since, as far as I have heard or observed, the principal object is, not that mankind may be well and honestly clad, but, unquestionably, that the corporations may be enriched”. (16)

Against this world of money-greed and exploitation, Thoreau proposed a modest and inward-looking life in the bosom of nature.

The dust that accumulates on any object inside a house symbolised for him the choking effect of modern life on human beings and he declared: “I would rather sit in the open air, for no dust gathers on the grass, unless where man has broken ground”. (17)

Thoreau’s belief in the importance of being close to nature implied that our very thinking should emerge from that nature and effectively amount to a continuation of its unspoken wisdom.

He wrote in ‘A Natural History of Massachusetts’: “To him who contemplates a trait of natural beauty no harm or disappointment can come. The doctrines of despair, of spiritual or political tyranny or servitude, were never taught by such as shared the serenity of nature”. (18)

hoar frost crystalsIn this essay he described the “ghost leaves” produced by hoar frost and was prompted to reflect on the inherent form within the natural world.

He wrote: “It struck me that these ghost leaves, and the green ones whose forms they assume, were the creatures of but one law; that in obedience to the same law the vegetable juices swell gradually into the perfect leaf, on the one hand, and the crystalline particles troop to their standard in the same order, on the other.

“As if the material were indifferent, but the law one and invariable, and every plant in the spring but pushed up into and filled a permanent and eternal mould, which, summer and winter forever, is waiting to be filled”. (19)

He added: “Vegetation has been made the type of all growth; but as in crystals the law is more obvious, their material being more simple, and for the most part more transient and fleeting, would it not be as philosophical as convenient to consider all growth, all filling up within the limits of nature, but a crystallisation more or less rapid?” (20)

Here he raises one of the key elements of organic radical thinking: that there is an implicit order within nature as a whole and all its parts, including humans, which emerges from within and steers our development.

Thoreau wrote: “I perceive that, when an acorn and a chestnut fall side by side, the one does not remain inert to make way for the other, but both obey their own laws, and spring and grow and flourish as best they can till one, perchance, overshadows and destroys the other. If a plant cannot live according to its nature, it dies; and so a man”. (21)

thoreau bookThis realisation, drawn from his observation of plants and frost, formed a nature-sourced philosophical basis for his libertarian political views.

If people were not able to live according to their nature in the contemporary world, it was because of the state and its laws.

Thoreau wrote, in ‘Civil Disobedience’: “I heartily accept the motto, ‘That government is best which governs least’; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically.

“Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which I also I believe – ‘That government is best which governs not at all’; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have”. (22)

He observed: “Law never made men a whit more just; and, by means of their respect for it, even the well-disposed are daily made the agents of injustice”. (23)

Thoreau had direct experience of the power of the state, which jailed him for refusing to pay his poll tax for six years, and was struck by the “foolishness” of the thick walls and doors with which it countered his principled stance.

pilloryHe wrote: “The State never intentionally confronts a man’s sense, intellectual or moral, but only his body, his senses. It is not armed with superior wit or honesty, but with superior physical strength. I was not born to be forced. I will breathe after my own fashion. Let us see who is the strongest”. (24)

When Thoreau insisted that “the only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think is right”, (25) this may sound simply like rugged individualism.

But the use of the term ‘right’ indicated that he was in fact referencing a collective sense of right and wrong, one sourced from his inner human nature.

Like the anarchist psychoanalyst Otto Gross, Thoreau saw how a person who tried to live according to that nature, who remained true to their innate moral compass, was bound to come into conflict with an outside civilization founded on power, money and lies.

Our duty was to allow the sense of rightness that swelled within us to overcome the demands and expectations of a world become corrupt and not to find cowardly excuses to avoid doing so.

He wrote: “All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency are great and unendurable. But almost all say that such is not the case now”. (26)

He urged us to follow the obligation deep within us to be true to ourselves and the natural world of which we are part: “Let your life be a counter-friction to stop the machine”. (27)

Video link: Talking with Thoreau (31 mins)

thoreau art

1. Henry David Thoreau, Walden, with an introduction by Richard Whiteing (London: The Gresham Publishing Company, n/d), p. 109.
2. Thoreau, Walden, p. 42.
3. Thoreau, Walden, p. 110.
4. Thoreau, Walden, p. 111.
5. Thoreau, Walden, p. 15.
6. Henry David Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau: Revised Edition, ed. Carl Bode (London: Penguin, 1975), p. 123.
7. Thoreau, Walden, pp. 15-16.
8. Thoreau, Walden, p. 17.
9. Thoreau, Walden, p. 39.
10. Thoreau, Walden, pp. 110-11.
11. Ibid.
12. Thoreau, Walden, p. 61.
13. Ibid.
14. Thoreau, Walden, pp. 61-62.
15. Thoreau, Walden, p. 111.
16. Thoreau, Walden, p. 30.
17. Thoreau, Walden, p. 42.
18. Henry David Thoreau, ‘A Natural History of Massachusetts’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 33.
19. Henry David Thoreau, ‘A Natural History of Massachusetts’, The Portable Thoreau, pp. 52-53.
20. Thoreau, ‘A Natural History of Massachusetts’, The Portable Thoreau, pp. 53-54.
21. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 127.
22. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 109.
23. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 111.
24. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 127.
25. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 111.
26. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 113.
27. Thoreau, ‘Civil Disobedience’, The Portable Thoreau, p. 120.

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6. Acorninfo

Resistance continues against the disastrous HS2 rail line between London and Birmingham. Says the HS2 Rebellion website: “HS2 is one of the largest and most damaging infrastructure projects our country has ever seen and is representative of everything we are seeking to change within this toxic system”. For info on protest camp locations and how to help go to https://hs2rebellion.earth/camp-locations/

HS2 protest

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Wangan and Jagalingou Tribal Warriors in Australia have served mining giant Adani with an eviction notice for illegally trespassing on their land with its Carmichael Coal Mine. They say: “This eviction notice marks the start of a new phase of our resistance to Adani’s destruction of land, water and culture”.

WJWarriors

* * *

This Spanish TV interview with a doctor went horribly wrong for the corporate propagandists, as the interviewee tore holes into the official smearmongering and its blatant vaccine-profiteering agenda. A real breath of fresh air!

Spanish doctor on TV

* * *

“It will be done in a barbaric fashion using draconian methods and this global holocaust will probably come out from under the flag of the UN… Wake up now!” So says a character in One By One, the last ever film to feature the late Rik Mayall.  Meanwhile the latest Plandemic film has been getting a lot of attention. Note that one of these is labelled fiction and the other not, but we will let readers decide for themselves how that works out!

Rik Mayall in One by One

* * *

“This is the essence of the biosecurity state, in which the citizen no longer has the right to life (familial, social, economic, political), but in which the state has absolute power over the biopolitical body of the subject”. Another hugely impressive article by Simon Elmer
of Architects for Social Housing can be read here.

police state masks

* * *

A warning against the Big Pharma vaccine agenda has been issued in Cyprus. Says the author: “The so-called ‘cases’ of healthy people are exactly what each community needs to cope with the crisis. But the ‘scientific team’ is trying to reduce this natural immunity that the community is now building, because – they have made it very clear – they prefer to pursue mass vaccination”.

DIY.Masks.3.cropped

* * *

The dystopia of the Fourth Industrial Repression is arriving faster than any of us could imagine. In Basildon, Essex, for instance, the council has announced it will be starting a six-month trial of the use of drones to help with planning enforcement. Local activists’ fears of “mission creep” are supported by news from Melbourne, Australia, where the increasingly fascistic cops are already using drones to spy on citizens to make sure they don’t break “lockdown” rules. Will people start developing DIY anti-drone devices in response? Jamming the frequencies? Using catapults even?

drone surveillance

* * *

Canadian constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati is taking out a lawsuit against his government, describing the COVID measures as “the biggest example of misinformation and lies on a global scale that we’ve seen”.

Rocco Galati

* * *

Another glorious triumph for technological Progress has been announced, with scientists apparently having discovered a “ground-breaking” bio-synthetic material that they claim can be used to merge artificial intelligence with the human brain. This “breakthrough” is described as “a major step towards integrating electronics with the body to create part human, part robotic ‘cyborg’ beings”. Marvellous news for life haters everywhere.

cyborg nightmare

* * *

The next phase in  the global techno-fascist coup, particularly if resistance picks some momentum, is likely to be full-out censorship of dissident views. We are still very much present on Twitter, but with some anti-establishment groups already being expelled from social media, we have created a back-up account on Mastodon,  which can be found here.

* * *

Acorn quote: “The great ability of those who are in control in the modern world lies in making the people believe that they are governing themselves”.

René Guénon

vote poster

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

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The Acorn – 43

acornmastheadnew1

Number 43

In this issue:

  1. Stop the Salzburg summit!
  2. Intergalactic week at the zad
  3. Thousands block US air base in Germany
  4. Returning fire against the industrial capitalist system
  5. The Broken Harp: how colonialism crushes culture
  6. Organic radicalism: bringing down the fascist machine
  7. Acorninfo

1. Stop the Salzburg summit!

NOS20

The call is going out to mobilise against a fascistic and militaristic “security” conference being staged in Austria on September 20, 2018.

The informal meeting of EU heads of state and government is being held under the slogan of “A Europe that protects”, and key points on the agenda include so-called “internal security”, the so-called “protection” of the EU’s external borders, and so-called “cyber security”.

Say opponents: “We refuse to be deceived by the EU’s excessive use of euphemism. It is crystal-clear that the Salzburg summit will be a summit of authority: a pseudo-democratic spectacle of a bunch of assholes deciding about repressive policies that will boost their position in the struggle for economic and military power – at our expense.

“‘Internal security’ means giving even more weapons of all kinds to those whose job it is to spy on us and arrest us. The ‘protection of the EU’s external borders’ is the militarized expulsion and deterrence of refugees and migrants. ‘Cyber security’ means digital control of our data and our actions.”

Migration will be a key point on the agenda on September 20. In an insidious propagandistic move, people fleeing from war and hardship are portrayed as a security threat. But whose security is meant, and who is supposed to be protected from whom?

Calls for an extended Frontex mandate and an increased number of deportations have a clear aim: the militarized expulsion and deterrence of people fleeing the devastations caused by power blocks such as the EU, who actively engage in the exploitation of the Global South.

Politicians are vying with one another for the most absurd plans. To name just one example, Jens Spahn, the Health Minister (sic!) of the German conservative party (CDU) wants to see Frontex forces multiply from the current 1,500 to 100,000.

frontex
Frontex cops

The portrayal of refugees as a security threat serves to legitimize policies of “internal security”, that is the increased arming of the state’s institutions for spying and repression.

Sadly, governmental and non-governmental racist-nationalist projects have won over the minds of a considerable proportion of the population (not only) in Austria – with the result that people enthusiastically embrace policies that run against their own interests, believing that these measures will “protect” them.

For instance, the new Austrian Face-Veiling-Ban makes surveillance much easier by forcing each and every person on Austrian territory to present their face to the ubiquitous CCTV cameras at all times. This is hardly likely to foster the “peaceful coexistence” mentioned in the preamble to the new law.

Another European trend is the increased arming and militarization of the police and the extension of their powers. The new Bavarian police law is a particularly scary example: police in the southern German state are set to be given secret-service-style powers. “Smart” video technology and face recognition are going to be used, postal secrecy will be lifted, and the cops will be equipped with hand grenades.

The Austrian conservative chancellor Sebastian “Message Control” Kurz has announced he will take up the “struggle against internet giants such as Google and Facebook”. Of course, digital policies are not driven by the desire to protect the personal data of the EU’s subjects. Neither do they arise from sincere outrage about the large-scale tax evasion practised by corporations.

On the contrary, the driving force of such policies is the competition for technological hegemony among those in power and for the technological means to monitor our thoughts and actions.

Sebastian Kurz
Right-wing Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz

Those in power in the EU have recognized the need to secure control over the technological apparatus, in order to keep up with the latest top manipulation techniques (e.g. look up “nudging” in your newspeak dictionary). In this context, chancellor Kurz tellingly used the phrase “equality of weapons”.

According to press reports, the state dinner on September 19 is likely to take place in Mirabell Palace, and the political meeting in the Mozarteum University. Thus, both relevant venues as well as the four hotels where the heads of state and government, plus their entourage, will be staying for the summit will be in close proximity to each other (all in the inner city of Salzburg to the right of the river Salzach).

Around these venues, a so-called “security zone” is going to be set up – for rebels it is more likely to be an insecurity zone. In mid-April, local press reported the planned use of drones “as one part of the security concept for the Austrian presidency of the EU council”.

The call-out adds: “Police drones will be hovering above our heads this autumn, spying on and filming each of our movements. When will they shoot at us?

Salzburg cops

“The militarized siege of our city that is lying ahead seems like a consistent follow-up to local policies. Decades ago, homeless people were removed from the inner city during the posh Salzburg Festival, and a sectoral ban on begging was imposed on large parts of the inner city some years ago in order to get rid of the travelling poor, many of them Romani and Sinti people.

“These measures are supposed to make sure that the city’s wealthy conservative elite and paying tourists are spared the sight of the poverty caused by capitalism and nationalist-racist policies of expulsion. This is how Salzburg discriminates between wanted and unwanted guests.

“We are calling all partisans of freedom and equality to come to Salzburg in mutual solidarity – let’s demonstrate what is really unwanted: the oppression caused by white supremacist capitalist patriarchy, the nationalism feeding on antisemitic conspiracy theories, the positions of power that enable a system of inequality to live on.

“We’ll see you on the streets on September 20!”

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2. Intergalactic week at the zad

zad intergalactic

After the long-awaited victory against the airport project, residents of the zad autonomous zone at Notre-Dame-des-Landes in France are trying to recover from a brutal spring which was marked by two phases of violent evictions.

The massive police operations caused many injuries, the destruction of a part of the living spaces of the zad and involved a long military presence. But the state was forced to give up going any further and entirely eradicating the rebel presence.

Resistance on the ground, solidarity elsewhere and the negotiation process resulted in a status quo that left dozens of homes, common spaces and activities on most of the land held by the movement. Nevertheless, this could very quickly be attacked again, administratively, politically or militarily.

Whilst the zad recovers from its wounds and recomposes itself, the work in the fields and the constructions resume.

Important global issues are involved here: collective and respectful use of the land, sharing of the commons, questioning of nation-states and borders, reappropriation of habitats, the possibility of producing and exchanging free from the shackles of the market, forms of self-organization on territories in resistance and the right to live there freely.

Following more than two years of regular building work and a new month of construction this summer, the week of August 27 to September 2 will also be the inauguration of the Ambazada, a space intended to welcome rebels and struggles from around the world to the zad of Notre-Dame-des-Landes.

To honour and celebrate the opening of the Ambazada the zad rebels have made a call for a new intergalactic week.

The zad forever site says there are lots of questions to be discussed, such as “how to throw down the anchor for the long term without becoming domesticated; being community centred or more porous in our movements; the power struggles and frontal relationship with the state and possibilities for victories to last”.

Part of the week will be devoted to open encounters with guests from the Wendland in Germany, Christiania in Denmark, the free district of Lentillères in France, Errekaleor in the Basque Country and perhaps Exarchia in Greece.

There will also be discussions on the way that peoples everywhere are resisting cultural assimilation and liberal ideology.

zad flag

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3. Thousands block US air base in Germany

Ramstein1

The US air base at Ramstein in Germany was completely blocked by a protest of 2,500 people at the end of June, calling for it to be closed.

Ramstein is the biggest American air base outside the USA and hosts the USAF’s European HQ, and control rooms for drone missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan.

On a blistering hot day better suited for a trip to the pool, and despite the rival attraction of the World Cup, opponents of the base turned up in large numbers for the annual protest in Rhineland-Palatinate in southwestern Germany.

Ramstein2

Sahra Wagenknecht of Die Linke (The Left), Ann Wright (former US Army colonel), Reiner Braun (of Stopp Air Base Ramstein) and Eugen Drewermann (theologian and psychoanalyst) were all in attendance. Wagenknecht told the crowd: “There are over 1,000 US military bases around the world, and none of them exist to ensure the security of those countries”.

Ramstein - Sahra Wagenknecht
Sahra Wagenknecht of Die Linke

The protest came as US President Donald Trump seemed to be questioning the need for the huge US military presence in Germany, which has been in place since the end of the Second World War.

Protesters hoped this could put the issue on the political agenda in Germany, though they warned they did not want to see the bases simply moved into Poland as part of US pressure on Russia.

ramstein logo

A new international network against military bases has now been set up. Its founding statement defines the establishment of a military base by one country outside its own territory is an act of aggression.

It declares: “Our goal is to close all foreign military bases. Military bases pose threats of political and economic expansion, sabotage and espionage, and crimes against local populations. US bases in particular are the largest users of fossil fuel in the world, heavily contributing to environmental degradation.

“We commit to supporting and working with all organizations and networks who campaign for the removal of foreign military bases in their countries and communities, to raise public awareness, increase political and international pressure and help as far as possible to organise and co-ordinate non-violent resistance with the aim of eventually closing them all.”

See also:
Okinawa: resisting the US occupation

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4. Returning fire against the industrial capitalist system

Return Fire 5

The latest issue from our comrades at Return Fire magazine is now available online.

At 128 pages, this is their largest offering yet. It includes previously unavailable English translations looking at the bandits operating against shipping industries off the Somalian coastline and Marco Camenisch’s commentary on the molecular frontier of industrial toxicity, Nanotechnology & Transparency.

There is a look at the “New Smart World of Slaves” into which we are currently moving and at anti-state forms of social life in Zomia, south-east Asia, amongst much else.

Here is a passage from a heart-felt piece called “We are not afraid of their ruins… We carry a new chaos in our hearts”:

“We proclaim from our madness, rebellious and contagious, that we don’t care about the penal codes and their reforms because we do not believe in their laws or in their disorders.

“Since we were born we have lived in turmoil and subjected to the rule of law, the family, religion, medicine, school, work, husband, father, state… and disobeying them all, and for that reason they have labeled us with their despicable assortment of incurable and chronic diseases.

“They condemn us for life even before we are born, and we will continue shitting on their scientific, political, economic, social and religious truths, because obedience and submission are the only true diseases.

“We began a long tormented journey in which we were torn from our natural environment to join the system of a world to which we do not want to adapt. We will always be uneasy, unstable, critical, irritating, miserable, emotional, passionate, restless, resistant, distracted, loving, hyperactive, overflowing… and warriors, because we will not give up germinating our madness in the face of the blackmail and emotional conflicts with which they want to domesticate us and the permanent confrontation between us and them.

NGS Picture ID:621636

“We are sick with a dark bile of rage that stirs like a storm against all those who feel safe and secure in this uncertain world that, day by day, destroys us. They contaminate the air we breathe with sulfur and uranium. The waters of the rivers are increasingly toxic due to their heavy metal slag discharges.

“Their emissions of dioxides, methane and fluorinated polluting gases are suffocating and burning nature and putting at risk the survival of all animals, human or nonhuman, and plant beings.

“They covered the planet with a thick skin of toxic black paste and surrounded the territory with rail tracks, highways, metal fences, concrete walls, high voltage towers and barbed wire fences… separating us from our siblings and neighbors and filling the atmosphere with electromagnetic radiation.

“They keep the mountains seriously ill from wounds opened by quarries, mineral extraction and deforestation. They imprison nonhuman animals to die in industrial farms, and they enlist us in industrial centers of penitentiary exploitation.

“They bomb civilian populations in the name of freedom, justice and democracy, plundering entire countries for questioning their hegemonic model of capitalist, white, patriarchal, western and Christian life, leading thousands of people into the blind alley of their misery, destruction and death.

“And it is they, the selfproclaimed guardians of the freedoms of the world, of this destructive world order that is nothing new, who consider us ‘crazy’ and ‘dangerous subjects’ to justify our gags, the pharmacological straitjackets, the confinement to perpetuity and the death sentence.

“Our ‘madness’ is not fooled by the modern designs of the democratized chemical lobotomies and shock therapies that they use as torment and torture in the most bloody of dictatorships… because they fear us.

“They, those who throw us out of our houses, those who after exploiting us in their factories force us into unemployment. They, those who determine who has more ‘right’ to live in a territory that is not theirs and in which they can only maintain their privileges by the harsh repression and by the destructive capacity of the weapons of their armies… They fear us”.

return-fire-vol5-art

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5. The Broken Harp: how colonialism crushes culture

Broken harp cover

When we think of people suffering under colonial occupation, a number of elements immediately spring to mind.

There is the military and repressive side, of course. The occupiers’ army bases and patrols, the courts and prisons enforcing the “legality” of the occupation and the local police forces who collaborate with the colonisers to keep down their own people.

Then there is the economic aspect, ultimately the raison d’être of all imperialism. Raw materials are ripped out of the earth to feed the empire’s insatiable greed, crops are exported directly back to the imperial centre even if locals are starving, the colonial subjects are denied the right to autonomous lives and are put to work as slaves for the imperial machine.

Those who look into the effects of colonialism more closely will also detect the cultural dimension. The values of the ruling imperial order are imposed and local culture, traditions and ways of thinking, which might offer some resistance to the smooth running of the centralised system, are devalued and destroyed.

One aspect of this cultural colonisation which is easily forgotten, especially by those of us who are native English speakers, is the linguistic one.

The crucial importance of this issue is examined in depth in The Broken Harp: Identity and Language in Modern Ireland by Tomás Mac Síomóin, published by Nuascéalta.

The starting point for Mac Síomóin’s analysis is his own home country, where the Irish Gaelic language risks becoming extinct within a few decades, if current trends continue, despite its superficial presence on road signs and the like.

irish gaelic

He takes issue with the assumption, apparently widespread in Ireland, that Irish particularity can just as well be expressed by speaking English in a particularly Irish way.

He points out that words, in any language, have an aura of subtle associations that are specific to the culture which gave rise to them. The English word “seaweed”, for example, is not the exact equivalent of “feamainn”, which comes with its “own unique set of social and literary allusions”.

The inability of any community to express itself in its own terms, according to its own thinking, is a form of disempowerment that runs parallel to the inability to participate in decision-making processes.

Effectively, by talking and thinking in the coloniser’s language, the colonial subject submits to the dominant worldview of the coloniser. This is the “defining colonizing moment”, as Mac Síomóin puts it.

He quotes academic historian Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh as describing the abandonment of native language as inevitably involving “a disorienting rupture in cultural continuity at several levels; not only an alienation from landscape (place names) and inherited historical narratives and communal myths, but also a deep psychological trauma, at an individual and communal level, caused by the loss of a rich inherited matrix of wisdom and knowledge.”

The issue is by no means confined to Ireland, of course. More than 6,000 languages are currently spoken around the globe, but between 50% and 90% of these are likely to have vanished by the year 2100, warn experts.

Mac Síomóin cites perspectives from other continents, where the death of local culture has gone hand in hand with the death of local language.

Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

The Kenyan writer and cultural activist, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o, for instance, writes: “Communication between human beings is the basis and process of evolving culture. Values are the basis of people’s identity, their sense of particularity as members of the human race. All this is carried by language. Language as culture is the collective memory bank of a people’s experience in history. Culture is almost indistinguishable from the language that makes possible its genesis, growth, banking, articulation and indeed its transmission from one generation to the next.”

He adds: “The bullet was the means of the physical subjugation. Language was the means of the spiritual subjugation.”

In their Neo-Colonial Politics and Language Struggle in the Philippines (1984), Virgilio G. Enriquez and Elizabeth Protacio-Marcelino argue that possession of a national language is an essential precondition for autonomy.

They say the continued use of English in a US-oriented educational system “undermines Filipino values and orientation and perpetuates the captivity in the minds of the Filipino people to the colonial outlook. For them, the English language symbolizes the belief in the superiority of US culture, values, society; thus it can only serve the exploitative profit-seeking ends of US power.”

Mac Síomóin identifies several layers of colonisation in Ireland, from the historical English colonisations to the Anglicising role of the Roman Catholic Church, the contemporary effect of British TV and, of course, the influence of US cultural imperialism, which has so undermined the authenticity of European societies since the mid 20th century.

He asks how many Irish children, even Irish-speaking ones, know a tenth as much about the heroes of traditional Gaelic mythology, Fionn Mac Cumhail and Cúchulain, as they do about The Simpsons, Dora the Explorer, Sponge Bob Squarepants, etc., and the world of Disney.

mcdo ireland
Irish culture?

He identifies the Irish as suffering from a kind of collective Stockholm Syndrome, a “Super-Colonized Irishness” (SCI), which renders them incapable of even noticing what has happened to them, let alone resisting it.

And, in a fascinating aside, he dips into contemporary genetic research to suggest that some kind of inherited colonisation trauma could be affecting the psychological health of the Irish people, as well as other victims of imperialism across the world.

From a native English-speaking perspective, it has to be said that the psychological state of the English population is not great, either!

But then the dispossessed of England have also been dominated for centuries by an arrogant ruling elite, seen their folklore and ancient wisdom suppressed by authoritarian religion, been thrown off the land and into industrial slavery and been used as cannon fodder for the profiteering greed of the imperialist classes.

Who, anywhere and in any language, can really escape the deeply imbedded trauma of being born into a dehumanising industrial capitalist society plummeting towards nightmarish environmental catastrophe?

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6. Organic radicalism: bringing down the fascist machine

orpic

In a new in-depth analysis just published on our website, we take a look at the “eco-fascist” smear often levelled against deep green anti-capitalist thinking.

Although the Nazis certainly exploited nature-friendly language for their propaganda, we show that ultimately their narrow racist dogma was completely incompatible with coherent holistic and organic thinking.

We also explore the organic philosophies developed by anarchist, left-wing and Jewish thinkers and suggest that these would make an excellent basis on which to rebuild an explicitly anti-fascist organic radicalism to resist and eventually bring down the industrial capitalist machine.

Here is an extract:

Kurt Goldstein
Kurt Goldstein

Kurt Goldstein (1878-1965) was a Jewish socialist critic of modernity, who set out to combine holistic and organic German philosophy with the values of reason, democracy and individual freedom.

Throughout his life, he warned against the dangers of applying narrow, fragmented scientific ways of thinking to other realms.

He wrote in an unpublished 1965 paper: “The progress by the application of science to all fields, also those which are related to the spiritual side of man, as education, psychology, sociology, etc, seems to be so enormous that somebody who today dares to oppose even a little this trend and warns against the fateful consequences for human existence is considered either stupid or uneducated, irresponsible or prejudiced”.

From Goldstein’s holistic perspective, everything was interconnected, outside and inside the individual human being. The words ‘mind’ and ‘body’, for instance, did not point to genuine entities but were just ‘symbols’, human abstractions, denoting different aspects of an overall organic reality that could not in fact be divided.

He has been described, by Ruth Nanda Anshen, as having introduced “a new doctrine of organism which may be said to be taking the place of the materialism with which, since the seventeenth-century, science has enmeshed philosophy”.

Max Wertheimer
Max Wertheimer

The psychologist Max Wertheimer (1880-1943), took Goethe as a starting point, developing the idea of Gestalt, or underlying form, in a promising direction far removed from the dead-end of racism into which the Nazis tried to divert it.

Born in Prague, he fled central Europe before Hitler came to power and continued his work in the USA, later becoming an American citizen.

While the Nazis claimed piecemeal or fragmented thinking was a Jewish trait, Wertheimer, who was himself Jewish, turned this round against them.

He argued that the modern world had cropped humanity’s thinking capacity. Piecemeal thinking – strings of propositions torn from their original living context – was being used by demagogues and certain intellectuals to hoodwink people into accepting their ideas.

In the 1934 essay ‘On truth’ he distinguished between truth and mere facts. Facts meant nothing on their own. Truth was a holistic understanding of the significance of various facts in the wider context of their relationship to one another and to a larger whole. He wrote: “A thing may be true in the piecemeal sense, and false, indeed a lie, as a part in its whole”.

Wertheimer judged that the key concepts of truth, ethics, democracy and freedom were all under attack from contemporary academic thinking, influenced by positivism, pragmatism and cultural relativism. Indeed this anti-holistic stance had itself helped prepare an intellectual field in which it had become possible for the Nazis to succeed.

In an essay on ethics, he took a critical look at ethical relativity which – like the Nazis with their German/Aryan particularism – denied the existence of ethical universals.

As a believer in the organic unity of humankind, Wertheimer disputed this and insisted that experience showed that most people, “when faced with clear, actual injustice”, responded spontaneously in ways that human beings would universally consider decent and ethical.

Gestalt psychology, which Wertheimer developed along with Kurt Koffka (1886-1941) and Wolfgang Köhler (1887-1967), was an influence on the anti-capitalist Critical Theory of Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979), Max Horkheimer (1895-1973) and the Frankfurt School in general.

The organic and anti-mechanistical approaches taken by Jewish thinkers like Wertheimer and Goldstein illustrate the fact that there existed a broad anti-industrial current in German-speaking Europe which was not simply non-Nazi, but anti-Nazi, and whose fundamental principles placed it in direct opposition to fascism.

tree and roots2

Read the full article here

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7. Acorninfo

Two big days of action against the far right are coming up in London. The first is on Friday July 13, when massive protests are expected against US President Donald Trump. The second is on Saturday July 14 when bigoted worshippers of the Tommy Robinson cult will be peddling their own version of Muslim-hating xenophobia. The Anti-Fascist Network have announced a Saturday meet-up at 1pm at the International Brigades Memorial in Jubilee Gardens on the south bank of the river and they will march from there.

stop-tommy

* * *

The Earth First! UK 2018 summer gathering will be held in Sussex from August 15 to 20. It offers five days of skill-sharing for grassroots ecological direct action – make links, share ideas, and get involved in the struggles against fracking, new roads and more. The gathering will be camping at a rural site (accessible by public transport, nearest station Horsham). Participants will need to bring a tent, sleeping bag, torch and suchlike. Meals are provided by the gathering’s collective kitchen and there’ll be a snack shop.

earthfirst

* * *

The fascist-capitalist-industrial system is using private security firm Eclipse Strategic Security to carry out surveillance against anti-fracking campaigners on behalf of the oil and gas business, an article on Motherboard has revealed. It adds: “Eclipse has ties to oil companies, the police and military networks, and one director is a former British soldier who has expressed support for far-right groups online”.

eclipse security

* * *

From July 29 to August 2, the 4th international Degrowth Summer School in Germany will take place at the Climate Camp Leipzig Land. After three years at the Rhineland Climate Camp, the event with around 500 participants now moves to another mining area and to this new camp.

degrowth.de logo

* * *

Israel is arming neo-Nazis in Ukraine, a shock report on Electronic Intifada has revealed. The Tavor rifles being used by the Azov militia are produced under licence from Israel Weapon Industries, and as such would have been authorized by the Israeli government. This is just the latest instance of links between Israel and the extreme right in Europe.

Ukraine nazis

* * *

“Reviving the memory of the struggles of the past makes us feel part of something larger than our individual lives and in this way it gives a new meaning to what we are doing and gives us courage, because it makes us less afraid of what can happen to us individually”. So says Italian activist and author Silvia Federici in an inspiring interview on the joyfulmilitancy site.

silvia federici
Silvia Federici

* * *

Are the degrowth “Buddhist economics” of E.F: Schumacher heading for a badly-needed revival, as capitalism pushes humanity to the brink of disaster? In a thoughtful article on brainpickings, Maria Popova looks at a vision that challenges the dominant mercantile and mechanistic mindset obsessed with production and profit.

ef-schumacher-2
E.F. Schumacher

* * *

Pro-war “radlibs” (radical liberals) come under discussion in this moderate rebels podcast from the USA, which also debunks the “red-brown” smears increasingly used by McCarthyite pro-war “leftists” to malign anyone opposed to US/NATO-led regime change.

moderate rebels

* * *

Acorn quote: “You have hanged in Chicago, decapitated in Germany, garotted in Jerez, shot in Barcelona, guillotined in Montbrison and Paris, but what you will never destroy is anarchy. Its roots are too deep. It is born in the heart of a society that is rotting and falling apart. It is a violent reaction against the established order. It represents all the egalitarian and libertarian aspirations that strike out against authority. It is everywhere, which makes it impossible to contain. It will end by killing you”.

Émile Henry, speech in court (1894)

anarchist-hand

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

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The Acorn 27

The Acorn 26

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