The Acorn – 47

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Number 47

In this issue:

  1. Yellow voices
  2. Defending nature means fighting capitalism
  3. Zombie archaeology
  4. Everybody expected the Neoliberal Inquisition
  5. Tall tale of “eco-terrorism”
  6. Acorninfo

1. Yellow voices

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The Gilets Jaunes, or Yellow Vests, movement in France is the most important political phenomenon to emerge in Western Europe so far this century. It has smashed through the barriers of political stagnancy and sterility which so often disempower and stifle spontaneous expressions of popular discontent.

The yellow banner of revolt has rallied parts of the population previously unreached by political organising and the relentless determination of hundreds of thousands of men and women has shaken the citadels of neoliberal power to the core. As well as the rubber bullets, grenades, water cannon and tear gas deployed by the French state against the uprising, another major weapon against the Gilets Jaunes has been the corporate media.

Constant lies, smears and alarmism in France have been matched by almost total silence elsewhere, punctuated by small dribbles of largely inaccurate information. We at Winter Oak have been trying to help counter this information war against the rebellion by reporting their activities and opinions in English. Below we present five new translations which offer some useful insights into what is currently being spelled out in yellow in France.

The uprising is very much ongoing as we write this, with Act 18 of the protests on March 16 likely to be significant, particularly in Paris. For  news updates about the movement follow us on Twitter.

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i. Power to the people!

This declaration was agreed at the Yellow Vest assembly of assemblies in Commercy at the end of January, attended by delegates from across France. It was then “sent back” down to the local assemblies, who have gradually been endorsing it from the grassroots.

Ever since November 17, from the smallest village in the countryside to the biggest city, we have been rising up against this profoundly violent, unfair and unbearable society.

We are not going to be pushed around! We are revolting against the high cost of living, against precarity and misery. We want our loved ones, our families and our children to live in dignity.

26 billionaires own as much as half of the human species and that is unacceptable. Let’s share wealth and not misery!

Let’s do away with social inequality! We demand immediate increases in pay, in the minimum wage, in benefits and in pensions; the unconditional right to healthcare and education; free public services for everyone.

It’s for all these rights that every day we occupy roundabouts, that we organise actions and protests and hold discussions everywhere.

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With our yellow vests on, we are having our say, which we have never had before.

And what’s the response from the government? Repression, contempt, denigration.

People killed and thousands injured, the massive use of weapons fired directly at us which mutilate, take out eyes, wound and traumatise.

More than 1,000 people have been arbitrarily prosecuted and jailed.

And now the new so-called “anti-vandal” law aims simply to stop us demonstrating.

We condemn all violence against protesters, whether it comes from police or violent factions. None of that is going to stop us!

The right to protest is fundamental. End the impunity for the government forces! Amnesty for all the victims of repression!

And what a con, this Grand National Debate which is nothing but a government PR exercise taking advantage of our desire to discuss and take decisions!

The real democracy is the one we practise in our assemblies and on our roundabouts. It is neither on the TV nor in the fake debates organised by Macron.

He insults us, says we’re less than nothing, then depicts us as hateful crowd, fascistic and xenophobic.

But in fact we are completely the opposite: neither racist, nor sexist, nor homophobic, we are proud to be together with our differences to build a society of solidarity.

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The diversity of our discussions is our strength and even now hundreds of assemblies are drawing up and putting forward their own demands.

They involve real democracy, social and fiscal justice, environmental and climate justice, the ending of discrimination.

Among the most debated demands and strategic proposals we can find: the eradication of misery in all its forms; the transformation of institutions (citizen-initiated referenda, constituent assemblies, an ending to privileges for elected representatives); environmental transition (energy precarity, industrial pollution); equality and the valuing of all women and men regardless of their nationality (people with disabilities, gender equality, ending the neglect of working-class districts, rural areas and overseas territories).

We, Gilets Jaunes, invite everyone to join us, as and how they see fit. We call for a continuation of the series of “acts” of protests, of the occupation of roundabouts and the blockading of the economy and of the effort to build a huge national strike.

We call for the setting up of committees in the workplace, at places of study; and everywhere else so that this grave can be built on the basis of the strikers themselves.

Let’s take control of our own activities! Don’t stay on your own, join us! Let’s organise democratically, autonomously and independently!

This assembly of the assemblies is an important step which allows us to discuss our demands and our means of acting.

Let’s come together in federations to transform society!

We ask the whole of the Gilets Jaunes movement to circulate this call.

If, as a Gilets Jaunes group, you agree with it, then don’t hesitate to send your support to Commercy.

Please do discuss and draw up proposals for the next assembly of the assemblies, already under preparation.

Macron resign!

Power to the people, for the people, by the people!

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The “nothings” are on the streets

ii. The ghost of 1789

This is an extract from a leaflet issued by a group of Gilets Jaunes in southern France after a local bigwig, the Prefect, accused “anarchists” of inciting hate of the state and confrontations with the police.

Mr Prefect, there is no need for anarchists to sow hate as your government is managing to do that all on its own. Oh, nobody for the moment is talking about reaching for their rifle, but everyone can see what they earn and what the rich earn. Hate is on the rise. The Gilets Jaunes are simple people, generally workers at the bottom of the scale on low wages, or people living on modest pensions…

They say, when they talk about the rulers and the fat cats in this country: “They are like the kings and aristocrats used to be”. They are not talking about having a revolution here and now but they talk a lot about our great revolution: it is always coming up in conversation.

Macron has said repeatedly that he won’t change course: so we can expect nothing from him but scraps of charity. One day or the other the poor, like in 1789, will take action and a lot of others with them.

This won’t be a revolt, but a revolution!

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It is clear that every government since 1983 has done all it can to ensure that the poor are in this state of mind.

In our assemblies there are, among the hundreds present, lots of workers and pensioners. There are also teachers and nurses.

Some anarchists work and earn roughly as much as the other Gilets Jaunes, others are unemployed, like many others.

Sorry to disappoint you, but there is nothing to differentiate them from other Gilets Jaunes except that, perhaps, some of them are more active than most: that’s their right and we don’t hold it against them!

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iii. Our community is the struggle!

This analysis comes from issue 2 of an eight-page A3 street paper, Jaune: Le Journal Pour Gagner (Yellow: the Paper for Winning).

From the start of this movement, two symbols have been competing on the roundabouts. The yellow vest and the tricolour flag. Of course, many wouldn’t put it that way. They would say that the flag is the symbol of the French people, while the yellow vest is the symbol of the struggle, so the two are complementary. And it’s true that in each instance those who sport them regard them as signs of rallying around something in common. But there are different kinds of commonality.

The idea of a community founded on belonging to a territory, defined by a state and the defence of the borders of that state, is very old. We can see it in the founding myths of the Roman Empire.

Some will say that this is a hard reality. They will argue that every country has its share of misery and that at the end of the day defending your tribe, your territory, your compatriots, is a necessary part of being human. Their slogan is “our own before the others”.

But who are “our own”? Have you really got more interests, aspirations and sufferings in common with the rich of France than with someone who works on the same building site as you but hasn’t got the same passport? More in common with the Loréal family than with an Italian or Algerian delivering for an Amazon subcontractor? More in common with someone else on the minimum wage, regardless of nationality, or with someone who used to pay the highest rate of income tax until Macron scrapped it?

Nationalism will tell you that yes, French people, regardless of their social position, have more interests in common together than with any other form of solidarity, such as that based on a common situation. But where does that lead? Who profits from saying that? Who benefits from nationalism?

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Everybody knows the line about divide and rule. It implies, of course, that it those who rule who divide the others. So, let’s put the question this way: who rules? Who owns the wealth and the means of producing more wealth? The rich, the bourgeoisie. And who is divided according to passport and nationality? The poor, the workers, the unemployed.

Anyway, do you really think the bourgeoisie practises what it preaches for us? Do you really think that the French rich feel closer to you than to their friends in such or such a country, with whom they go skiing in Switzerland or Dubai while you go to work? Let’s not be naive.

But there is another community: the community of struggle. Thus, in France, for a long time now, a revolutionary tradition welcomes all those who want to struggle. As far back as the French Revolution, lots of people from every corner of the world came to lend a hand. During the Paris Commune, as well, the organisation of the barricades was partly organised by Polish revolutionaries.

And we can see this solidarity in struggle and revolution at many other times of history and in many other parts of the world. That is the community which brings us together. Today, it has a rallying call: the yellow vest. This call is universal and as such it is closer to the spirit of past revolutions, including the French one.

So we are saying it loud and clear: we are on the side of the yellow vest, of what it says about common struggle and also about a shared refusal of our dire situation, about chilly early mornings blockading and about evenings around a pile of burning palettes, talking about our rock-bottom living conditions.

Yellow Vests of every country, unite!

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iv. Poisoned by neoliberalism

From an interview with François Boulo, a lawyer and a Gilets Jaunes spokesman in the northern city of Rouen (source: Thinkerview).

How do you see the current situation with the Gilets Jaunes?

There is a fight to be won in terms of communication. The mainstream media are trying to criminalise the movement. But the real question of immorality lies with the distribution of wealth. To live in a country and pile up a personal fortune that is 10, 100, 1,000 times more than you need to live, while in France 9 million people teeter on the brink of poverty and 140,000 are homeless…

What kind of politics are you proposing?

For the last 40 to 45 years there has been an ideological drive to poison our minds with the dominant neoliberal thinking, which is presented as the only possibility. This is the framing for the way we think about politics today. This economic framing is imposed on us and they tell us that there is no alternative. This has generated a mood of resignation.

The economic debate has been closed down. They explain to us that we have to have permanent growth, even though we live in a finite world. We have a cake and they tell us we can’t change the rules for allocating the slices of the cake. I think citizens’ control is needed.

What do you think of the political and policing climate around the Gilets Jaunes movement?

Right from the start, everything was done to ramp up the climate of tension. On the second Saturday of protests in France, from 8.30 or 9am people were being “kettled”, caught in a trap, and teargassed! How do you expect them to feel that their right to protest is being respected?

What about Europe ?

We have got to stop following the demands of the banks and investors, because their financial games do not help the real economy. We should finally create the social Europe we were promised.

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v. A breath of fresh air

Here is an abridged version of an in-depth article in issue 12 of Avis de Tempêtes: Bulletin anarchiste pour la guerre sociale (Storm Warning: Anarchist bulletin for social war), a 20-page A5 zine with a yellow and red cover. The piece takes a witty swipe at a certain kind of comrade who considers themself too ideologically pure to possibly be able to join in the diverse and mould-breaking Gilets Jaunes uprising.

For once, a movement has erupted in a self-organised way without political parties and trade unions, for once it immediately set its own agenda – an agenda which is often daily and not at the weekly or monthly rhythm of the big days out orchestrated by the troop masters and agreed in advance with the police – even deciding for itself its own places and routes of confrontation and blockage by obstinately refusing to beg for official authorisation.

In short, a breath of fresh air for all those activists who have been waiting for nothing other than a big collective movement before venturing out of their homes. However… While the meagre crumbs claimed by any number of reformist, trade-unionist or victimist organisations – backed up by a show of strength in the streets to help their representatives in their negotiations with authority – have never put too many people off taking part, now we see those marvellous anti-authoritarian activists diligently dissecting those who have lit the yellow-vest fuse.

The anti-authoritarian activist, well schooled in swallowing all kinds of reformist demands in order to join in various struggles, this time finds that there is not enough familiar common ground.

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With the Gilets Jaunes movement, the activist has suddenly discovered the world around him. Having been in raptures over the Arab Spring without finding his enthusiasm impossibly deflated by the “interclassist” use of the term “the people” (“The people wants the fall of the regime” was a much-used popular slogan) and the abundance of national flags, he is now disgusted by the same limitations on his own side of the Mediterranean.

Having rioted against the Loi Travail labour reforms, or last May Day, without feeling his presence incompatible with that of  massed hammer and sickle flags, or with the sometimes-dubious banners at the head of Parisian demos (emblazoned with the wise words of 100%-reactionary rappers), he is now mortified by the tricolour flags and populist slogans.

He had chosen to be blind to the hundreds of tricolour flags in the left-wing France Insoumise rallies at the last elections, as well as to those wielded by hundreds of thousands in the streets after the epic victory in the footballing spectacle of July 2018 (sported in unison by poor urban youth and old rich racists).

No, the activist is as simple as his organic-supermarket ideology. An unclean symbol equals a fascist. Full stop.

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Further reading:

Tear gas and rubber bullets on the streets of southern France

Yellow is the new bloc

Yellow fever: long live the revolutionary mob!

Gilets Jaunes: unfiltered anti-capitalism

“Police everywhere, justice nowhere!” – Gilets Jaunes on the streets of Nîmes

The heartbeat of the yellow jacket revolt is rural

Christmas with the gilets jaunes

May our yellow sparks of revolt set the world ablaze in 2019!

France on the brink: either we topple the system or it will crush us

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2. Defending nature means fighting capitalism

GAF image

A radical anti-capitalist dimension to the Extinction Rebellion (XR) has emerged in the UK, with the creation of a new alliance.

The Green Anti-Capitalist Front is born of the realisation that if we want to defend nature we have to fight capitalism.

It says it wants to support the high-profile XR “with a parallel mobilisation that has a greater focus on the capitalist roots of climate catastrophe”.

GAF explains: “As we all know, capitalism is killing the Earth. We have been observing the rise of the Extinction Rebellion movement and, while we are glad to see a growing interest in fighting climate change, we do not think their critique goes far enough and believe a specifically anti-capitalist critique is needed.

“As such we are calling for the formation of an anti-capitalist block to tap into this rising interest in radical politics and to fill the vacuum of a green and anti-capitalist movement in London. We plan to loosely work alongside Extinction Rebellion’s actions, especially their week of actions planned from April 15th, while also developing our own unique
approach.

“The Green Anti-Capitalist Front is intended as a broad coalition of groups with varying ideologies, but with a common interest in tackling environmental problems at their social roots”.

GAF logo

In an open letter to XR, GAF praises it for having reinvigorated environmental activism at a time when this was most needed.

It says: “XR has been bold in its aims when much of the established movement has been cynical, and has managed to tap into a broader sense of alarm over environmental degradation, and mobilised many people not previously involved.

“XR has grown at a speed that many people would have thought impossible before we saw it happen.

“XR has also been far more radical in this broad appeal than many people would have thought, pursuing a strategy built around both local direct action while maintaining an international orientation.

“We cannot overstate the overwhelmingly positive effect that XR is having on environmental politics”.

However, GAF says it has “doubts about some of the tactics that XR has adopted” and thinks a conversation is needed about this.

GAF is inviting like-minded people and groups to get in touch via
greenanticapitalistfront@riseup.net. It has a website, Twitter account and Facebook presence.

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3. Zombie archaeology

zombie archaeology

by Eric Fleischmann

In the 21st century, the world is now veritably swamped with commodities. According to APLF ltd. American consumers purchase an average of 7.5 shoes per capita per year. The LA Times reports that “the average U.S. household has 300,000 things, from paper clips to ironing boards.”

I am not by any means claiming that everyone is an affluent borderline-hoarder. One of the fundamental problems of capitalism is the unequal access to this seeming abundance of goods.

With so much paraphernalia in the world, it is inevitable that significant portions will be wasted.

In an article for The Atlantic, Derek Thompson explains that in a year the world creates around 2.6 trillion pounds of garbage—“the weight of about 7,000 Empire State Buildings.”

Much of this is food waste, but many inorganic items are produced with cheap plastic and other materials that fall apart quickly. Some companies, such as Apple, even reportedly preprogram their products to stop functioning properly after a certain amount of time in order to force consumers to buy new wares at a much greater rate than they otherwise would.

All this waste, all this stuff tossed away, has to go somewhere. Such rubbish becomes part of the planet’s topography, enter into its ecological systems, and eventually returns to the human sphere of interaction – much to human detriment.

This is zombie archaeology; when the remnants of our past are not uncovered by human beings but return to us by themselves with a vengeance.

angelus novus

In this age of capitalism-induced ecological collapse, zombie archaeology is certain to become only increasingly suited for describing the world. Walter Benjamin, in his Theses on the Philosophy of History, writes of Paul Klee’s Angelus Novus, “This is how one pictures the angel of history. His face is turned toward the past. Where we perceive a chain of events, he sees one single catastrophe which keeps piling wreckage upon wreckage and hurls it in front of his feet. The angel would like to stay, awaken the dead, and make whole what has been smashed. But… …[t]he storm irresistibly propels him into the future to which his back is turned, while the pile of debris before him grows skyward.”

But what happens when the wreckage and debris – both literal and figurative – begin shambling towards the present? When the dead are, in a sense, awakened? Zombie archaeology poses these questions.

See full article here.

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4. Everybody expected the Neoliberal Inquisition

spanish inquisition

We have been drawing attention for some time now to the ideological smears being deliberately used by the neoliberal elite to stifle dissident voices.

Unlike Monty Python’s ridiculous “Spanish Inquisition”, this one has long been expected by everybody who has been paying attention.

The most important task, we feel, is to point out the essential dishonesty behind these attacks.

Neoliberals differ from the old-fashioned right in that they like to paint themselves as the Guardians (yep, quite!) of Progressive Thinking, as somehow vaguely left-wing despite their full-blooded backing for capitalism, militarism, imperialism and everything that goes with it.

So they cannot attack the left in the traditional way, by simply saying they do not like it because it is too left-wing and threatens the status quo which they support.

Instead, they pretend to be attacking their enemies from a progressive position, one which occupies the liberal moral high ground.

This is the case with the longstanding smears against deep green thinking which try to claim it is a continuation of Nazi ideology, even though Hitler’s regime was the epitome of industrialism (see our article Organic Radicalism: Bringing Down the Fascist Machine for a full analysis of this).

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Neoliberals, including pseudo-leftists, aren’t honest enough to say that they oppose deep green politics because they support industrial capitalism – that would blow their ideological cover.

Instead, they have to pretend that it is because they have cleverly identified it as a sinister right-wing threat to democracy as we know it.

The same phenomenon is basically at work with the “anti-semitism” allegations cropping up everywhere at the moment.

This issue is slightly complicated by the fact that it is partly about Palestine and the need for the pro-Israel lobby to silence all criticism of the apartheid state by conflating anti-Zionism with anti-semitism.

A real witch-hunt atmosphere has been created here, which the original Spanish Inquisition would surely have been proud of.

witch hunt

Once accused of “anti-semitism”, the victim is faced with a dilemma similar to that of the famous ducking stool  – if you drown you are not a witch and if you don’t then you are a witch and you have to be burned alive.

If the person accused of anti-semitism admits guilt and apologises, not only will they not be left alone, but they will also have surrendered important political ground and will have set a precedent for the next absurd denunciation.

If they deny having said anything wrong, this denial will be regarded as a further offence of perhaps even greater severity.

This is what has been happening to UK Labour Party figures such as Chris Williamson and to US lawmaker Ilhan Omar (see here and here).

The secondary smear technique has also been used against the Gilets Jaunes in France, particularly following an incident in which intellectual Alain Finkielkraut was called a “dirty Zionist”.

Comments, or lack of comments, on the much-hyped confrontation were used to attack prominent Yellow Vest supporters such as journalist Aude Lancelin and leftist politician Jean-Luc Mélenchon.

It is important to note that all these smear attacks have been targeted at the political left. Anti-semitism on the right is rarely even mentioned.

It is clear that the Palestine question, important though it is both for supporters and critics of the Israeli state, is not the only issue at stake here, as the likes of Jonathan Cook have been pointing out.

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Seattle 1999

One of the great successes of the wave of global protests that took place in the 1990s and at the start of the 21st century was to put anti-capitalism on the public stage.

Previously, the mainstream had never even accepted that we lived in a capitalist society, let alone that people could be against that.

The word “capitalism” was regarded as a nonsensical one, used only by communists or other left-wing cranks.

Suddenly, they were talking about anti-capitalism on the BBC, examining who these troublesome anti-capitalists were and what exactly they wanted.

Twenty years on, the Establishment feels under threat, its system crumbling and its mind-control power over the population lifting like fog in the sunshine.

It therefore seems to have decided to try to push anti-capitalism back out of the public domain, beyond the perimeter fence of ideological validity.

99 per cent

We have commented previously on the peculiar political argument that there is something “anti-semitic” about opposing the “1%” who own most of the world’s wealth (it’s a lot fewer than that…) or about condemning bankers or international capitalist organisations like the IMF, the WTO or the Bilderberg group.

As we pointed out last July: “What appears to be happening, in some cases at least, is that the ‘Jewish banker’ figure is again being deliberately deployed to thwart opposition to capitalism.

“Previously, it was used to steer people away from anti-capitalism and into anti-semitism, but now the aim is rather to steer people away from anti-capitalism with the threat of being labelled anti-semitic”.

This twisted approach is now being presented as a common-sense view by mainstream media, in tandem with the other smear attacks on left-wingers.

Right-wing Labour MP Siobhain McDonagh spun this toxic propaganda on BBC Radio 4 on March 4, with presenter John Humphreys helpfully summing up: “In other words, to be anti-capitalist you have to be anti-semitic?”

Such are the desperate, dangerous lies of a system that senses its days are numbered…

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5. Tall tale of “eco-terrorism”

edinburgh castle

In his new “extremist” novel, No Such Place as Asha, Paul Cudenec gives a fictional airing to the ideological smears often deployed by neoliberals against opponents of their ecocidal industrial capitalist system. This excerpt describes a speaker at a private conference of the “Transatlantic Alliance for Freedom” (TAF) in Edinburgh…

His special subject was environmentalism. He started off paying lip service to the importance of balancing economic growth with sustainable practices, of ensuring the well-being of human and animal communities, so on and so forth. Responsible environmental organisations acted as crucial watchdogs that reminded the authorities and industry of their responsibilities. While TAF did not always agree with their positions, they recognised the role they played, etcetera, etcetera.

Then he moved on to the substance of his talk. Unfortunately, there was always a fringe of green protesters who took things too far, who refused to play by the rules. He talked about “eco-terrorists” in the USA and “hardcore” environmentalists in Europe, such as 1990s road protesters in the UK, a mobilisation against a high-speed rail line in Italy, a protest camp against an airport in France, another against mining in Germany.

More recently, the “worst” instance of these campaigns was the anti-fracking movement in the UK. The dangers of these extremists’ illegal direct action were well known, he said, as was the “Luddite” ideology that inspired them.

But lately things had taken a turn for the worse. These groups were starting to develop a common ideology, aided by the exchange of news and views made possible by the internet. They were borrowing ideas from campaigners on the other side of the world and incorporating them into their own rhetoric. They were increasingly identifying the enemy not just as their local government, or business, but as something they termed “the industrial capitalist system”.

Up against this, they were piecing together their own counter-position. They had taken the idea of “sacred land” from indigenous struggles in North America, Australia and elsewhere and were applying it to their own sites. The use of direct action was turning into an ideology of direct action, an anarchist contempt for the rule of law and the due democratic process. French and German groups had fed into the mix the idea of “degrowth”, which rejected the very fundaments of our society – the idea of progress, economic growth and increased prosperity for humankind.

I wrote down a complete quote at this point. “Let’s be clear, these people are negationists. They are guilty of progress denial. And I would suggest that this brand of negationism should be treated as seriously as the other one of which we are all too well aware. Because that’s where it ends, ultimately. It all ends at the same place. The destruction of civilization. The deaths of millions of men, women and children in the name of fanaticism.”

There was a great burst of applause across the room at this point. Having established his moral high ground, Heath went on to spell out the particular form this Eco-Terrorist Apocalypse would take, which seemed to involve mainly a drop in the profits of “important wealth-creating institutions”, faced with increased grassroots resistance to their projects and falling levels of consumption as the “poison” of anti-growth views contaminated the population.

More info here.

asha cover

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6. Acorninfo

A top-notch new comic has been published by Corporate Watch in London. Worlds End uses words and pictures to help people understand climate change and capitalism and encourage a different approach, one that builds power to fight them. Read it online here.

worldsend

* * *

“Just because the participants in the growing number of Extinction Rebellion actions may be predominantly middle class, it doesn’t mean to say that we as working class people aren’t concerned about environmental issues”. So says a useful article in The South Essex Heckler. It adds: “What we need to do is to start to own the narrative of the campaigns around those issues so that it’s our voices that are being heard. We’re the ones on the frontline from traffic induced air pollution through to being housed in flood risk areas”.

traffic fumes

* * *

Disturbing evidence keeps emerging about the way the environmental movement, particularly the climate justice element, is being hijacked and manipulated by big business. For instance, a Daily Mail report in February revealed that Tory peer John Selwyn Gummer, who heads the UK government’s Climate Change Committee, has a private company which has been paid more than £600,000 from “green” businesses hoping to profit from government subsidies. And the full report from Cory Morningstar mentioned in Acorn 46 is now online and a must-read for any nature-defender who wants to avoid being used as a useful idiot by a bunch of lying industrial capitalists.

Gummer

* * *

The threat of new industrial capitalist mega-projects in Mexico has been highlighted in a letter from Zapatista women to their sisters across the world. The authorities’ destructive schemes include the Mayan Train, the “development” of the Tehuantepec Isthmus and massive commercial tree farms. The letter declares: “We’re going to fight with all our strength and everything we’ve got against these mega-projects. If these lands are conquered, it will be upon the blood of Zapatista women”.

zapatista women

* * *

“Fracking is stoppable, another world is possible!” is the title of a highly informative and inspiring new online bulletin from the frack free movement. Issue 1 is available here but issue 2 should be out very soon – follow the excellent frackfree_eu on Twitter for updates.

frackingisstoppable

* * *

The 2019 Liverpool Anarchist Bookfair will be held on Saturday April 13, 11am till 5pm at The Black-E, 1 Great George Street, L1 5EW. This will be a day of stalls and workshops, with a vegan cafe and kids’ space – free entry (donations towards event costs welcome). Says the website: “Books, zines & more to feed your brain  let’s learn, organise, grow & create!”

liverpoolbookfair

* * *

If the neoliberal Establishment succeeds in totally destroying the (very mild!) threat presented to its domination by Corbyn’s Labour Party, there will no doubt be a few we-told-you-soes from us anarcho-cynics. But the anger sparked by such a collapse in people’s hopes could well lead to something more interesting happening in the UK. As Jonathan Cook notes: “If parliamentary politics returns to business as usual for the wealthy, taking to the streets looks increasingly like the only option. Maybe it’s time to dust off a Yellow Vest”.

* * *

Acorn quote: “The poorest man hath as true a title and just right to the land as the richest man. True freedom lies in the free enjoyment of the earth”.

Gerrard Winstanley

Gerrard Winstanley GJ2

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

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The Acorn – 46

 

Number 46

In this issue:

  1. Yellow is the new bloc
  2. The system must be destroyed!
  3. Controlling the narrative
  4. Climate of manipulation
  5. Against their world of artifice
  6. Acorninfo

1. Yellow is the new bloc

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January 19, 2019: week 10 of history-forging French uprising

For the tenth weekend running, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets all across France in the Gilets Jaunes or Yellow Vests revolt against neoliberal capitalism – and this in the face of unprecedented state violence and oppression.

President’s Macron pathetic attempt to take back the initiative with his “Grand National Debate” has been exposed as a sham, with his regional roadshows protected by armies of riot police – deployed to keep at bay the people he is supposed to be listening to!

In Paris, for Act 10 of the uprising, the latest in a series of massive marches was estimated by observers to stretch for 4km and was met with the usual hostility and teargas from the “forces of order”.

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Gilets Jaunes in Lille set up a burning barricade to keep the cops at bay.

Down south, protesters in Avignon forced open the gate to the police station and tried to set the town hall on fire.

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Avignon

A protester was seriously injured in Rennes.

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Rennes: Yellow, determined and revolutionary

In Toulouse, even the city authorities admitted that 10,000 people turned out and their protest was received with the usual politeness by the police.

One Gilet Jaune was the victim of a particularly nasty attack: “At least five or six cops descended on him, he was literally smashed to the ground. There were baton blows. He started to convulse”.

This is how Macron’s neoliberal democracy defends itself against dissent.

There were reports from Bourg-en-Bresse of protesters being injured by rubber bullets, grenades and the firing of teargas.

Some Gilets Jaunes in Clermont-Ferrand invaded the city’s shopping centre, chanting “Macron resign!” and blocking the escalators.

Everywhere there were thousands and thousands of people demanding an end to the neoliberal misery being imposed on France by Macron’s regime and the whole corrupt political system.

Caen, Rouen, Nîmes, Strasbourg, Bordeaux, Toulon, Dijon, Beziers, Perpignan, Montpellier, Lyons, Angers, Poitiers, Marseilles, Bergerac, Brest, Longeville-lès-Saint-Avold, the little town of Foix in rural Ariège…

And from everywhere the same images and reports came flooding in: big crowds, police provocation, teargas, grenades, batons, water cannon, blood and defiance.

Ten weeks on, this is still only the start!

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“12 dead, 2000 injured. Social movement or social war?”
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Poitiers
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Brest: “The Gilets Jaunes are carrying on! We won’t give up. Support us – support YOURSELVES!”

See also:

Yellow fever: long live the revolutionary mob!

Gilets Jaunes: unfiltered anti-capitalism

“Police everywhere, justice nowhere!” – Gilets Jaunes on the streets of Nîmes

The heartbeat of the yellow jacket revolt is rural

Christmas with the gilets jaunes

May our yellow sparks of revolt set the world ablaze in 2019!

France on the brink: either we topple the system or it will crush us

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2. The system must be destroyed!

system

Let’s be clear about this: the system exists.

You can call it what you like – The Establishment, The Thing, The Matrix or the Industrial-Military-Prison-Propaganda-Complex – but it exists.

It has become trendy in recent years to pretend that this is not so, that what we are seeing is merely a collection of economic or interpersonal relationships.

But it is the system that promotes, protects and imposes all the layers of domination and exploitation that mark our everyday lives.

It is the system that tells us we have to spend our best life energy working for it, just for the right to eat and exist in the world it claims it owns.

It is the system that pays its hired thugs to beat us up, intimidate us, lock us up for years if we refuse to play by its rules.

It is the system that maims and murders human beings on an unimagineable scale across the world, all in the interests of its profit and power, and still always claims the moral high ground.

It is the system that lies through its teeth, with a slick smile on its face, and is always quick to accuse anyone who challenges its lies of being a liar.

It is the system that devours, poisons and destroys our air, our water, our land and our bodies.

It is the system that brings death and extinction while claiming to bring growth.

It is the system that is always looking at new ways to monitor us, to control us, to infiltrate our lives, to direct our thoughts, to crush the tiniest possibilities of our freedom and resistance.

It is also the system, of course, that insists that the system does not exist, that we should not confuse the many trees of its oppression and control with an overall wood that could be termed an entity.

It says that anyone who talks of the system is necessarily a simple-minded fool who imagines the world is all controlled in every detail by half a dozen James Bond villains sitting around a conference table in an underground bunker.

It says that anyone who talks of the system is a conspiracy theorist liable to start spouting all kinds of deranged, maybe anti-semitic, nonsense.

The system says this because it knows full well that the rest of us – the powerless nobodies it so despises – will never be able to effectively challenge the system if we don’t even know that it exists.

On this point, and this point alone, we agree with the system. Identifying the existence of the system is the necessary first step to clearing the way for a worthwhile future for humankind and our planetary home.

The second necessary step is to destroy the system in its entirety.

 

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3. Controlling the narrative

 

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The system has always depended on being able to control the narrative of the societies it controls, ensuring that its own existence remains invisible and that all its lies are accepted as self-evident truths.

It knows that it is in big trouble if serious numbers of people start ripping the propaganda drip-feeds from their brains and sourcing their information from elsewhere, if people stop parroting the sermons of the system’s priests and start thinking for themselves.

It has been interesting to see the system in panic mode in France, being forced to work through every step of the emergency disinformation procedures as the Gilets Jaunes revolt gathers more and more momentum.

To start with, the Gilets Jaunes were just a passing nuisance. Then they were right-wing extremists, or left-wing extremists if the message was being aimed at a right-wing audience. After that, they were violent thugs and village idiots. Then it was all a flop and dying out. Then they were suddenly threatening armed revolution. They subsequently switched back to being fascists again, maybe of the elusive “red-brown” variety evoked by neoliberals everywhere in their desperate attempts to equate far left with far right and present themselves as the only safeguard against the horrors of so-called “populism”.

Again and again, the well-groomed and arrogant faces of the Parisian elite appeared to inform the French people that they were nothing but uneducated riff-raff who deserved to be shot and telling them to pack it all in. But nobody was watching TV on the roundabouts.

The media even wheeled out the tired old spectre of the Le Pen family once again, with inflated reports of how they were poised to come to power. It’s a great double-act for the capitalists, the old nice-nasty routine: support capitalism or you get fascism.

While there have been howls of media outrage over every flower-pot thrown towards the serried ranks of armour-plated riot cops, the huge levels of brutal violence inflicted by the police themselves have been sidelined or even ignored.

Individual cops have complained publicly that the instructions for this violence – by means of tear gas, rubber bullets, water cannon, grenades or just good old-fashioned beating and kicking – are political and have come straight from the state.

The system has given orders for the Gilets Jaunes to be left bloodied in the road, handless or eyeless in several cases. The system has given orders for its media to pretend this just isn’t happening.

And people have seen that. Millions of people have seen it and seen through it. The system has played its hand and it cannot keep playing it again and again with the results that it expects.

This is the scenario it fears most. The scenario in which the hologram illusion of democracy projected by its vast range of propaganda techniques flickers and disappears from the minds of the people.

Instead they see reality as it, as it has been for a long time: a criminal gang of professional liars, manipulators and thieves successfully holding millions of people in a state of thralldom, and being prepared to use unlimited violence to hold on to their power.

capitalist exploitation

It is not just in France that the system is afraid of losing control, although the population there seem to be several steps ahead of others in their awareness of what is going on and their courage in actually trying to do something about it.

That is why for years the system has been infiltrating radical political movements – and often sabotaging them from within so they can never successfully mobilise against its domination.

That is why it runs outfits like the Institute for Statecraft and its Integrity Initiative to push its propaganda and try to head off even the risk of a reformist social-democrat like Jeremy Corbyn getting a piece of power.

That is why it is rolling out products like NewsGuard to filter internet intervention and try and make sure only the system’s version of reality, the system’s views, can reach the public.

That is why it is constantly removing pages and accounts from social media, policing the internet to try to ensure that small voices of dissent can no longer be heard, while claiming that this insidious censorship is all about countering “fake news”.

That is why journalists who help whistleblowers expose the system’s crimes and manipulations are not only targeted by the system’s police but mercilessly smeared by the system’s faithful media lackeys.

But can the system ever really regain full-spectrum narrative domination and get all that information toothpaste neatly back into the mind-control tube?

We suspect not.

 

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4. Climate of manipulation

greta thunberg

Greta Thunberg: darling of the climate change reformists

Needless to say, we at The Acorn are fully behind environmental campaigns like Extinction Rebellion (see Issue 45) which warn that we face planetary disaster unless our society makes radical changes.

But we have to admit that we are often puzzled as to why there is quite so much emphasis on climate change as the primary evidence of something going badly wrong.

Why less talk of the plastic that is choking our oceans, the chemicals polluting our water sources, the nanoparticles absorbed by our bodies, the noxious fumes poisoning our air, the microwaves causing cancers in our brains?

Why so little mention that there is a name for all of this – industrial capitalism?

Why so few calls for the dismantling of this productivist profit-based insanity and the instigation of degrowth to restore a society which produces solely according to its real needs?

Surely it couldn’t be because the climate change movement is being insidiously manipulated by elements of industrial capitalism itself?

Surely it couldn’t be because the issue is being hijacked by powerful private interests as a way of getting rich on the new technologies that will supposedly solve the crisis?

Could it really be the case that genuine environmental activists, arrested and locked up for their courageous actions, are being used as human cannon fodder for a global marketing campaign?

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Cory Morningstar is asking some awkward questions of the climate change movement

Anyone tempted to dismiss these questions out of hand might like to take a look at the new work published online by radical ecologist researcher and writer Cory Morningstar.

This concerns the “non-profit industrial complex”, which she describes as “the most powerful army in the world”.

She writes that we are currently witnessing “the launch of a global campaign to usher in a required consensus for the Paris Agreement, the New Green Deal and all climate related policies and legislation written by the power elite – for the power elite”.

The policies this campaign is trying to push through include carbon capture storage (CCS), enhanced oil recovery (EOR), bio-energy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), rapid total decarbonisation, payments for ecosystem services (referred to as “natural capital”), nuclear energy and fission, and “a host of other ‘solutions’ that are hostile to an already devastated planet”.

The overall aim is the opposite of the degrowth we so badly need and would involve the “rebooting” of the capitalist economy by creating new markets and new growth.

renewable industry

Morningstar warns: “What is being created is a mechanism to unlock approx. 90 trillion dollars for new investments and infrastructure”.

The first part of her in-depth report focuses on “the manufacturing of Greta Thunberg” and the We Don’t Have Time organisation.

Future sections promise to investigate the role of Al Gore’s Climate Reality Project, 350.org, Avaaz, the World Wildlife Fund, the Green New Deal and, yes, Extinction Rebellion.

We look forward to reading them.

In the meantime, it is important that all of us who want to head off environmental catastrophe make it quite clear that this is not going to happen so long as we remain trapped inside the capitalist system.

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See also:

Degrowth and the death of capitalism

Envisioning a Post-Western World

End industrialism or humankind dies

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5. Against their world of artifice

luddites3

The artificiality and abstraction of life under contemporary capitalism is dragging us further and further way from a real sense of being alive – in our bodies, in our daily lives, in our environment.

That is the crucial message from anti-capitalist philosopher and writer Renaud Garcia in his latest book, Le Sens des limites: contre l’abstraction capitaliste (Paris: L’Échappée, 2018).

He describes our Western world as “a civilization with money as its universal mediation” in which capitalism “encloses” and privatises all aspects of life.

It cannot tolerate the idea of anyone living outside of its enclosure, hence its need to stamp out the practice of “subsistence” farming, where communities have the cheek to simply produce enough food for their own requirements, rather than for the requirements of the capitalist profit-machine.

It forces people into its system by giving them no choice, he explains: “Declaring war on subsistence means dissolving the autonomous ways of life of thousands of people and thereby enslaving them to commercial needs which they can only fulfil by going out to earn a wage”.

The idea of defending a natural world, which includes human communities’ relationships with the environment, has been neglected by Western anti-capitalism, he says, particularly under the influence of mainstream Marxism.

Uprooted from our previous rural existences, we today often find ourselves living in a sterile and life-denying suburban sprawl, a space created “for the demands of capital”, where people are trapped in a dependence on their cars and thus on the oil industry.

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William Morris

Garcia draws much on William Morris and echoes his critique of the artificiality of industrial capitalism: “In this world of artifice, going beyond the surface to a deeper level, that of the sheer essence of things, is no longer conceivable”.

Garcia dedicates another section of the book to examining, and condemning, transhumanism, which he terms “the official ideology of technological capitalism”.

This ideology “reduces the human brain to a simple processer of information, a mere calculating machine” and is built on the “basic negation of the reality of living organisms”.

Behind it lurks a “brutal dualism” which regards mind and body as completely separate, and thus imagines the possibility of a “posthuman” self with no fleshly existence.

Worryingly, this ultra-capitalist creed is also embraced by some who term themselves left-wing and have swallowed the lie that technological and social progress amount to the same thing.

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You can read the full version of this book review by Paul Cudenec on his blog.

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6. Acorninfo

“The Wet’suwet’en and Unist’ot’en remain steadfast in the determination that we will be successful in halting the toxic Coastal GasLink pipeline”. This was the defiant message issued on January 17 after the Canadian branch of the industrial-capitalist-military complex used shocking force against the indigenous peoples to try and clear the way for its polluting infrastructures, prompting an international wave of solidarity actions.

unistoten_camp_canada

* * *

Hundreds of people marched in Bern, Switzerland, on Saturday January 19 against the World Economic Forum being held at Davos, and against capitalism in general. They declared: “The infinite greed for profit and power that is seen at the Forum in Davos has no limits. Let the ruling class feel our anger”.

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* * *

Protests are to be held in Berlin on February 16 against the European Police Congress being hosted in the city. Says the call-out: “Let us use the police congress as an opportunity to take to the streets together against the police, the security authorities and their laws. Against state violence and repression. Against a world in which it is okay to let thousands of people drown on the borders of Europe, a world in which people are persecuted, imprisoned and killed because of their aspirations for liberation, a world that wants to destroy all forms of a life based on solidarity and collectivity”.

feb16berlin

* * *

A new book on squatting has been published by Squatting everywhere kollective (SqEK) and is available to read online. ‘Fighting for spaces, Fighting for our lives: Squatting Movements today‘ provides glimpses into a diverse and multi-faceted movement, with accounts from local struggles, experiences of repression and stories of collective forms of life which have grown out of squatted spaces in various cities and countries throughout the world, including accounts from Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul, Seattle and Australia.

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* * *

“Stop 5G on Earth and in Space!” is the message from a new international appeal. It calls for a halt to the deployment of the 5G (fifth generation) wireless network, including 5G from space satellites, explaining: “5G will massively increase exposure to radio frequency (RF) radiation on top of the 2G, 3G and 4G networks for telecommunications already in place. RF radiation has been proven harmful for humans and the environment. The deployment of 5G constitutes an experiment on humanity and the environment that is defined as a crime under international law”.

stop5g

* * *

In India’s densely populated megacities, residents are rallying against the widespread destruction of trees to make way for capitalist development, reports Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar. She highlights grassroots resistance in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi which are keeping alive the Indian tradition of tree-hugging and passionate defence of nature.

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* * *

Brazil’s new far-right President Jair Bolsonaro has already set out his vile agenda, reducing the minimum wage and unveiling plans to step up privatization, toughen prison sentencing guidelines, and hand control over Indigenous land to the Agriculture Ministry. The pro-US, pro-Israel Bolsonaro could well be the first in a new line of authoritarian neoliberals ready to impose industrial capitalism on the world without worrying too much about the facade of “democracy”.

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* * *

An eye-opening account of life for workers in China has been provided by Dissent Magazine. Uprooted from the land, peasant-workers have to take jobs in the electronic, garment, construction, or service industries whose low wages force them to work punishing hours of overtime. They live in crowded dormitories, under CCTV surveillance and the constant threat of eviction if they protest. “This is the true ‘miracle’ of Chinese industrialization: a highly vulnerable, precarious, and exploited working class”.

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* * *

A very interesting article has been published by our US comrades at It’s Going Down, addressing the thorny issue of alleged ideological similarities between deep-green anarchism and fascists, who often used nature-based rhetoric in their propaganda. The author finds that even the way the two traditions talk about nature reveals the apparent resemblance to be superficial: “The philosophies of the fascists came to largely revolve around concepts of domestication, husbandry, design, and surgical intervention; those of the primitivists revolve around wildness, biodiversity, voluntary association, and self-determination”. ‘Fascism, Ecology, and the Tangled Roots of Anti-Modernism‘ sits nicely alongside our own 2018 article, ‘Organic radicalism: bringing down the fascist machine‘ as a step towards clearing up this area of painful ideological misunderstanding.

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* * *

Acorn quote: “What is the point of economic progress, a so-called higher standard of living, when the earth, the only earth we have, is being contaminated by substances which may cause malformations in our children or grandchildren?”

E.F. Schumacher, Small Is Beautiful

 

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

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The Acorn – 45

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Number 45

In this issue:

  1. Rebelling against the industrial capitalist system
  2. “At the heart of this problem lies our sense of separation from nature”
  3. Abolishing dissent
  4. Does work set us free?
  5. Save Whitehawk Hill!
  6. Acorninfo

1. Rebelling against the industrial capitalist system

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Is the human species finally waking up to the fact that industrial capitalism is murdering the planet and realising that we all have to take action to stop it?

The signs are currently looking good in England, where the Extinction Rebellion (XR) movement has appeared out of nowhere and mobilised thousands of people to block streets and engage in civil disobedience.

The first big day of action was on Saturday November 17, when some 6,000 people took to the streets of London.

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They blocked five London bridges and planted trees on Parliament Square. More than 80 people were arrested.

Said Gail Bradbrook of XR: “This is an act of mass civil disobedience. This is the start of an international rebellion protesting the lack of action on the ecological crisis”.

There were swarming road blocks across London in the run-up to Rebellion Day 2, announced for Saturday November 24, 10am to 5pm at Parliament Square.

XRday2

The Rebellion has also started to take off elsewhere, such as Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland.

Some question marks have been raised in anti-capitalist circles about the XR approach. For a start, the enthusiastic participation of pseudo-radical Guardian columnist George Monbiot, who too often mirrors his employers’ anti-left neoliberalism (see the Media Lens archives), has set alarm bells ringing.

A strangely deferential attitude to the police has also worried many. In an article in The Canary, Emily Apple highlighted a failure in XR circles to critique the fundamental relationship between the police, the state and corporations, pointing out: “Ultimately, the police are there to protect the interests of the state”.

She added: “It is our duty to rebel. But effective rebellion will mean facing the full force and the full power of the state, and being prepared for the consequences.

“No amount of statements of non-violence will stop the police going in with full force if what you’re doing is a threat to the state or corporate profit. It won’t stop fundamental police tactics of harassment and disruption; tactics designed to deliberately deter people from protesting”.

However, most would applaud the way XR has achieved what seemed impossible and ignited a whole new wave of public protest against industrial capitalism.

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If you believe in a full diversity of tactics, then you have to wish them well and hope that their misguided faith in the intentions of the UK’s police does not end with too many baton-bludgeoned limbs and skulls, when the corporate-owned state decides that XR’s disruptive tactics have gone far enough.

Another encouraging sign of a change in consciousness is the publication by the UK’s Anarchist Federation of a booklet (available online) called Capitalism Is Killing the Earth: An Anarchist Guide to Ecology.

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The booklet rightly notes: “There has been wider understanding of environmental issues since mainstream publications such as Silent Spring, Gaia and An Inconvenient Truth; however, an anti-capitalist critique has been lacking”.

The aim of anarchists should therefore be to “make the link between capitalism and environmental degradation explicit in our politics and critique the role of the state in facilitating this”.

It tackles the issue of false solutions to the environmental meltdown, observing that most proposals for change do not question the overarching system of capitalism and the market economy: “The existence of private property, the appropriation of nature as a source of growth and production for profit instead of need are at the root of the problem, so they cannot be part of the solution”.

It was not clear to us, though, what is intended by the reference to a “primitivist” alternative society preventing people from “maintaining or increasing their standard of living”.

For the industrial capitalist mindset, “standard of living” is all about having a car and a dishwasher, flying abroad on holiday and fully participating in the capitalist economy. It is about buying and consuming.

Presumably the authors agree that a genuinely high “standard of living” would involve living freely in a community of equals, sharing the produce of the earth, breathing fresh air, eating uncontaminated food, waking each morning to the sound of birdsong or children’s laughter rather than of low-flying aircraft or the motorway at the end of the street.

The booklet says anarchists should “work more closely with groups such as Earth First!, Reclaim the Power and Rising Tide to further develop an activism which is both confrontational towards capitalism and is inclusive of local and global perspectives”.

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We agree. A full convergence of anti-capitalism and anti-industrialism is long overdue. Industrialism and capitalism are not two separate phenomena but two aspects of the same thing.

Whether you first notice its existence from an environmental perspective or from a social one, industrial capitalism is readily identifiable as the enemy.

It is the enslaver of humanity, the stealer of land, the destroyer of community and, unless we can quickly drive a stake through its malignant heart, the murderer of our planet.

See also:

Fighting the cancer of economic growth

Degrowth and the death of capitalism

Envisioning a Post-Western World

End industrialism or humankind dies

Fleeing the black volcano of industrialism

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2. “At the heart of this problem lies our sense of separation from nature”

In-depth interview with campaigner Geraldine of frackfree_eu

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Thanks for agreeing to this interview. Could you tell us a little bit about who you are and what sort of campaigning you are involved in?

I grew up in a rural area. In some respects, I guess I kind of grew up in a bubble, not necessarily privileged, far from it in financial terms, but certainly sheltered from any social or environmental problems.

From a young age, I cared deeply about the environment, but I’d never engaged in any activism as such. I used to receive newsletters from the World Wildlife Fund, and feel concerned about all the animals whose habitats were endangered by deforestation, orangutans and koalas especially.

I was so concerned about deforestation, in fact, that I once replied to exam questions in tiny writing in order to save paper, drawing attention to the fact that trees are chopped down to make the paper. The teacher was outraged by my act, insisted I apologise, but I refused, so she put me on detention.

It wasn’t too bothered. Standing up for what’s right is something to be proud of and I wasn’t going to obey authority whose demands conflicted with my values. I always had a bit of a rebellious streak.

How I got into campaigning… My academic background is in languages. Throughout my studies, I’d never been involved in anything remotely political. It was only when doing a Masters in European Studies that I had my eyes opened to injustices I’d previously been unaware of – such as racism, the Israel / Palestine conflict, austerity. None of these issues made me angry enough to drop everything, though.

Then, in early 2011, I first became aware of fracking while in France with my boyfriend on a business trip, watching politicians on French TV engaged in a fiery debate about how it could contaminate the water.

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The French term ‘gaz de schiste’ sounded less scary than the English equivalent ‘fracking’, so after a cursory look in the dictionary which translated ‘gaz de schiste’ as ‘shale gas’ I thought no more of it and just carried on focusing on my studies.

Little did I know at the time that the same technique was being proposed all across Europe and that France was to become the first country to ban it. It actually took me about six months to revisit the issue, after hearing news of earthquakes in Blackpool and seeing a documentary with French MEP José Bové at a fracking site somewhere in Poland.

Once I began ‘googling’ the term ‘fracking’, I was horrified. Then I learned that parts of Ireland were under threat too. Never in my life have I felt so incensed.

My first thought was: How could our government even consider giving permission to an industry that industrialises vast swathes of countryside and that has left a toll of death and destruction in every community where it has gained a foothold?

I’d never held politicians in much esteem anyway, feeling the system was designed to serve the better-off and those of us at the bottom rungs of the social ladder just have to work hard for everything and not rely on the state for help. As for voting, I’d only voted at one election as I felt elections were a farce.

Despite all this, it still took me aback at how Government can allow policies to be dictated by the interests of big business. What stunned me in particular is how these corporations fabricate lies in order to get what they want, repeating this mantra of jobs and growth as if nothing else mattered.

jobs and growth

That the truth, the facts, the science, could be obscured for the sake of profit and self-interest ignited a fire in me like never before.

It was time for me to move beyond my comfort zone, beyond my material world and devote myself wholeheartedly to the cause by attending events and speaking out at them, working with people I’d never have imagined working with before, mobilising others to take action, organising events, travelling to places I’d never been – but ultimately sharing the truth about what fracking involves and how much suffering and harm it causes to every living being. Nowhere deserves to become a sacrifice zone, least of all the country where I grew up and love.

Just focusing on fracking for the moment, what do you think there is about it in particular – compared to mining, for instance, or other forms of industrialisation – that has triggered such a strong response in you, and in so many others who were not previously engaged in this kind of struggle? 

Excellent and thought-provoking question! I’d be equally outraged about mining, though it is nowhere near as dangerous as fracking, to be honest, and have replied to consultations objecting to mining projects proposed in my country.

At the moment, communities in Northern Ireland, some of whom were previously licensed for fracking, are having to fight several mining projects. And at the height of the Romanian anti-fracking campaign, I remember meeting Romanians who were also involved in the campaign to save Rosia Montana from gold mining.

Rosia Montana protest

Anyone who opposes the raping and plundering of the land through fracking should also oppose mining or any industrial practice. Not to do so would be inconsistent, as all these practices pollute the air and water we all need to survive.

To answer your question properly, firstly, I think the term ‘fracking’ itself makes you sit up, encouraging you to delve deeper into the issue.

‘Shale gas’ on the other hand – as I experienced myself when I looked it up in the dictionary – tends to sound harmless, leaving you thinking, “Well, we need gas to heat our homes, don’t we?!” This is why the term ‘shale gas’ is preferred by the fracking industry, I believe.

And although ‘fracking’ may not have the same resonance in other languages, the documentary ‘Gasland’ by US filmmaker Josh Fox did much to popularise the term in non-English speaking countries, with translations into French, Romanian and Polish, and other languages too perhaps.

Secondly, I think the scale of what was being proposed across vast swathes of land, merely because of the geology, impacts thousands of communities. No other industry, in recent history at least, has impacted this many rural communities and no other industry has prompted so many places to enact bans and moratoria as a result of fierce grassroots opposition either.

Biologist Dr Sandra Steingraber and report co-author of the Compendium of Scientific, Medical, and Media Findings Demonstrating Risks and Harms of Fracking (Unconventional Gas and Oil Extraction) has called fracking “the worst thing I’ve ever seen.”

Having spent countless hours exploring fracking, I also believe that the impacts are far more severe than those associated with any other industrial process.

We have been fortunate to have had many experts – including Dr Steingraber, toxins expert Dr Marianne Lloyd-Smith, lawyer Helen Slottje, former oil and gas employee Jessica Ernst, as well as others who have seen fracking up close – come to Europe, warning us to fight with all our might.

frackfreeeu

And for good reason, because this industry has killed and harmed so many, from workers who have lost their lives in well blowouts or contracted cancers because of exposure to the toxic chemicals fracking uses and the NORM radiation the fracking process brings up – so well detailed by the late Dr Theo Colborn – to residents, children included, living in the gasfields suffering from severe neurological diseases caused by the toxic air pollution.

You also have suicides. The late George Bender, an Australian farmer, who was bullied for years by the fracking industry, ended up taking his own life a couple of years ago.

Then you have all the fish that have died because of fracking waste dumped in waterways and livestock that have suffered stillbirths. As Queensland gasfield refugee Brian Monk says, “You don’t live in gasfield. You die in one.”

Thirdly, I think fracking has raised the ire of so many because there is absolutely no need for it. The industry loves to tout energy security as an argument, but this is a complete red herring.

The reality is that fracking requires more energy than it creates – about five times more – and removes enormous quantities of our most precious resource, water, from the hydrological cycle forever.

There is also a global glut of gas, and gas demand across the EU has been falling steadily in recent years. So there can be no justification whatsoever for fracking.

Mining for raw materials, on the other hand, may be seen as justified by some. I mean, how many of us are willing to radically change our lifestyles so all the stuff relying on mining doesn’t need to be produced in the first place?

Try suggesting to people that they can and should live without a mobile phone (those of us who grew up without one survived perfectly well!) tends to provoke angry reactions.

Fourthly, the anti-fracking movement – largely grassroots and volunteer-based in nature – has done quite a good job of communicating the issue. Communication is crucial in mobilising people to take action. So often I see other struggles, equally worthy, being poorly communicated.

Lancashire protest

I think what’s important is that the communication is driven by local communities as much as possible. The corporate media loves to marginalise anti-fracking campaigners, portraying us as ‘environmentalists’, ‘green campaigners’, or worse ‘hippies’ and ‘treehuggers’.

In doing so, they give the impression that fracking is a fringe issue not worthy of everyone’s concern, when the complete opposite is true. In reality, the movement is made up of people from every background imaginable, from farmers and small business people to doctors and engineers.

Having communications driven by locals means you are able to capture all the cultural sensitivities too.

Framing our campaign as a struggle against corporate power and corporate-captured governments with ordinary people rising up against the odds also gets more people on board, in my experience. Again, unsurprisingly, the corporate media rarely frames our story this way.

fracking sussex

Lastly, you definitely have a wider movement which vilifies the fossil fuel industry, and rightly so, because it exerts so much power over our governments. Other extractivist struggles, on the other hand, tend not to spark as much outrage, I feel.

Perhaps this is because any questioning of the capitalist system, and industrial civilisation as a whole, threatens so many depending on the system, especially NGOs who have far greater resources than grassroots groups to communicate environmental issues.

Shortly after I began researching fracking, I came across a book called ‘The Moneyless Man’ by Mark Boyle. Reading it led me to question industrial civilisation as a whole, so for me, fracking has always been just one part of a systemic problem.

At the heart of this problem lies our sense of separation from nature, a sense that we humans are in control of the earth’s resources and that we have the right to exploit them how we wish, oblivious to the fact that in doing so we are also destroying our only life-support system.

Living with less and challenging the system fuelling this greed and separation from nature has now become the focus of my efforts as a result of learning about fracking and wider environmental struggles.

What do you see as the main obstacles between the human species and a healthier, nature-connected future?

So much to say, but for me three obstacles in particular stand out: materialism, trust in authority and hope. Apologies in advance for what is going to be a lengthy reply.

– Materialism vs spirituality

First and foremost, I believe we need to abandon our material selves. For too long, we have seen ourselves as separate from nature, rather than a part of it. How can we forge a deep connection with nature, realising that all life is sacred, unless we are willing to strip ourselves of material belongings?

In becoming less materially-focused and more spiritual beings, we become less willing to destroy our life-support system, in my experience, as we feel a deeper attachment to nature.

defend the sacred

How much do we really need to survive anyway? When you think about it carefully, very little. The only things I need to survive are a roof over my head and enough food.

Since discovering how earth’s precious resources are being raped and plundered and reading Mark Boyle’s book, a must-read for anyone who cares about the environment, I  rarely buy anything I don’t need.

Each time I look at things now, I feel a sense of disgust even, wondering where the resources came from to make an item, what environments were polluted, if any slave labour or oppression was involved in its production, and so on.

I’ve also developed a repulsion towards money, choosing to work just enough to ensure my survival. What I’ve learned now is what you need more than anything in life are strong relationships.

Too often I see those involved in environmental struggles –- especially in anglophone countries – advocating renewable forms of energy which also involve destroying nature. I find this strange.

Perhaps it is this focus on reducing carbon emissions, rather than a focus on protecting the sacred, protecting all life? Perhaps many are still trapped in the materialist mindset?

green capitalism

The cosmovision shared by Indigenous communities tells us that we are interdependent with one another, that harming any natural resource is harming ourselves. This is the vision I share too, because on a planet of finite resources only a radical shift in our way of thinking, away from the disconnected view of humans as separate from (and often as dominant over) nature, can lead to the profound changes we need to see.

As Babe actor and anti-fracking activist James Cromwell put it succinctly in an interview : “It is time to name the disease. Capitalism is a cancer. And the only way to defeat this cancer is to completely transform our way of living and our way of thinking about ourselves.”

– Trust in authority vs trust in one another

Years of intense campaigning against fracking and free trade agreements has taught me how corrupted by corporate power the entire system has become.

I’ve learned now that genuine solutions to our problems can only ever come from below, not from any authority, and certainly not from any form of government, be it local, regional or national, nor from any multilateral institution, no matter how well-meaning and benevolent that institution may appear on the surface.

The system can also embody the NGO and non-profit sector who, I’ve experienced, will tell you what the problems are but seldom bother to call into question the very structures that create these problems in the first place.

And because the root cause of these problems is never properly addressed, the same problems of exploitation surface time and time again.

frackingpolice

To learn just how corrupted our authorities have become by corporate power, I’d advise everyone to invest themselves wholeheartedly in an issue like fracking where the links between a corporate-controlled government, a corporate-controlled media and a corporate-controlled police force fast become apparent.

On learning how corrupt the system is, you should come to the inescapable conclusion that it deserves to be dismantled.

Unfortunately, not everyone does realise this, perhaps because they rely on the system in some way –- I don’t know.

For example, I remember being at a conference on free trade in the EU Parliament nearly two years ago listening to an NGO campaigner making a case for reforming the World Trade Organisation. Why would you want to reform an institution that was set up to facilitate corporate power, power which destroys nature?

Calling for institutions to reform is akin to justifying their existence in the first place. Instead, we need to be challenging their very existence and calling for them to be dismantled altogether.

A bit utopian, I know. But as corporate power dictates political policy more and more as corporations pursue ‘the race for what’s left, the global scramble for the world’s last resources’ – to borrow Michael Klare’s book title – it would be illogical to envision a nature-connected future within the confines of the current system.

We have a responsibility right now to challenge the system itself, the structures of authority which hold themselves up as legitimate, which declare themselves as bastions of freedom, democracy and the rule of law, structures which are desperately seeking legitimacy at a time of crumbling empires and dwindling resources.

Judges Attend The Annual Service At Westminster Abbey To Mark The Start Of The UK Legal Year

This obviously includes all multilateral institutions, but also the state. From my involvement in the campaign against EU free trade agreements, or corporate power grabs as I prefer to call them, I’ve seen how the state facilitates corporate power, while dismissing scientific evidence, expert advice and public opinion.

How can we possibly hope to protect nature under such an oppressive, undemocratic system whose servants bow so readily to the will of corporations?

As empires crumble and we veer towards what can only be described as a corporate dystopia, we simultaneously witness authority figures struggling to convince us of their narratives.

Hence the crackdown on alternative media and this ‘fake news’ phenomenon, a phenomenon used by those in power to control what information the awakening masses have the right to access.

As you’ve put it succinctly, all across the world the “’democratic’ gloves are coming off, the ‘news’ is revealing itself to be nothing but desperate propaganda, the ‘freedom’ capitalism claims to deliver is being exposed to one and all as a hollow lie.”

It is more urgent than ever that we stop looking to the system for solutions, stop legitimising all structures of authority and any ‘agreements’ concluded by their ‘leaders’ and, most importantly of all, stop falling for any propaganda trying to convince us that this system in its many guises – capitalism, multilateralism, liberalism, etc. – needs rescuing.

Instead, we need to trust each other and cooperate with each other rather than compete as this capitalist system conditions us to do. I would recommend everyone read CrimetheInc’s ‘To Change Everything‘ for further inspiration.

tochangeeverything

– Hope vs the responsibility of action

Lastly, we need to abandon the idea of hope, at least the sort of hope that fails to result in any tangible action. The hope that a small band of self-sacrificing activists will sort out the problems we face, the hope that political representatives will implement, of their own accord, policies that serve our interests rather than those of the 1%, the hope that a change in government will bring about the radical changes we need to see. Nature isn’t relying on us to hope for it, it is relying on us to do something to save it.

In one of your pieces, you share a remark by John Zerzan which resonates strongly with me: “There is an understandable, if misplaced, desire that civilization will cooperate with us and deconstruct itself. This mindset seems especially prevalent among those who shy away from resistance, from doing the work of opposing civilization”.

Sometimes I get the impression that people hope too much, but do too little.

In my experience of being involved in the Irish anti-fracking campaign – which lasted six years – many of us never hoped, never trusted our corporate-captured government, but many of us did work tirelessly to expose the political corruption and to ensure decision makers were held to account, listened to us and eventually did the right thing.

Anyone relying on hope without spending every breathing moment working on something to make things better is part of the problem, in my view. All campaigns need to start from the premise that you have a duty to act once you know the facts.

And once you learn about an issue as dangerous as fracking, of course, you feel a clear responsibility to take action, not out of fear – because fear kills the soul – but out of love, because you cherish the places and the lives that are under threat and don’t want to see them destroyed by greedy corporations.

As you put it so well: “Some human beings and their activities are acting as antigens, threatening the health of our species and our planetary superorganism. Other humans must therefore take on the role of antibodies”.

The last lines of Derrick Jensen’s essay ‘Beyond Hope‘ sum up the problem with hope perfectly: “When you give up on hope, you turn away from fear. And when you quit relying on hope, and instead begin to protect the people, things, and places you love, you become very dangerous indeed to those in power. In case you’re wondering, that’s a very good thing.”

saboterlesysteme

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3. Abolishing dissent

policestate

For as long as anyone can remember, Western capitalism has claimed to be one and the same thing as “democracy”.

But as its global empire teeters on the point of collapse, its desperate attempts to cling to power have exposed this claim for the lie that it always was.

Much of the current wave of censorship and oppression is taking place on the internet – which has thus so far remained out of the direct control of the neoliberal system.

This October, Facebook and Twitter deleted the accounts of hundreds of users, including many alternative media outlets.

And credit for this seems to have been claimed by the German Marshall Fund of the United States, a very dodgy NATO-linked organisation (previously exposed by The Acorn here and here) which aims to maintain full-spectrum US neoliberal global control.

GMF Jamie Fly

The grayzone project reported that the GMF’s Jamie Fly said the USA was “just starting to push back” against its enemies’ use of the internet, adding: “Just this last week Facebook began starting to take down sites. So this is just the beginning”.

The USA’s ongoing persecution, and planned prosecution, of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange could likewise be regarded as part of the same “beginning” of neoliberalism’s overtly fascistic desire to crush any voices that dare to speak out against its imperial privilege.

Soo too could the coming to power in Brazil of the totalitarian neoliberal (or “plutofascist“) Jair Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro
Brazil’s new president, Jair Bolsonaro

The Coordenação Anarquista Brasileira (Brazilian Anarchist Coordination) point out the geopolitical forces that lie behind his regime: “It’s clear our continent, Latin America, is seen as a strategic reserve of resources (political, natural, energy) for the use of the US, which makes the political situation of Brazil so important to Washington”.

Bolsonaro has followed the USA’s lead in declaring war on so-called “fake news”, which seems to mean any criticism of his policies by a supposedly “left-wing” media.

The UK government is also getting in on the censorship act, announcing that it is preparing to establish a new “internet regulator”.

Reports Buzzfeed: “The planned regulator would have powers to impose punitive sanctions on social media platforms that fail to remove terrorist content, child abuse images, or hate speech, as well as enforcing new regulations on non-illegal content and behaviour online”.

All of this helps further reduce what the Network for Police Monitoring (Netpol) recently called “the shrinking space for protest in the UK”.

Netpol’s Kevin Blowe wrote: “The militarised mentality of public order policing undoubtedly demands the latest technological advances, but it does so for a reason: conducting any war is never simply about the capture of physical space, but about the ability to maintain domination and control over it.

dissent

“’Keeping the peace’ (perhaps more accurately, pacification) involves the shrinking and ultimately denial of any space that your ‘enemy’ might conceivably benefit from. In public order policing terms, this invariably means any space to directly challenge either state or corporate power exercised in the name of progress or economic growth: for example, against the construction of airports, subsidies for the arms industry, nuclear power, fossil fuel extraction, or restrictions on workers’ rights”.

Netpol’s 2017 report on the policing of anti-fracking protests in England highlighted concerns that intense police surveillance of protesters has a potentially ‘chilling effect’ on freedom of assembly, in actively discouraging many from participation in campaigning activities.

“Furthermore, the smearing of legitimate campaigners as ‘extremists’ drives a wedge between them and potential allies in their communities and is used as a weapon against them by the media and pro-industry groups”, added Blowe.

Meanwhile, after the trial run with dogs, the microchipping of the UK’s human population is underway, starting at that point of greatest disempowerment, the workplace.

microchipping

UK firm BioTeq has already fitted 150 implants in the UK. Another company, Biohax of Sweden, says it is in discussions with several British legal and financial firms about fitting their employees with microchips, including one major company with hundreds of thousands of employees.

If you can’t see the connection between this news and everything that has been outlined above, then you’re really not paying attention!

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4. Does work set us free?

work1

Work penetrates and determines the whole of our existence. Time flows mercilessly by as we shuttle back and forth between depressing and identical locations at ever-increasing speeds.

Working time… Productive time… Free time… Every one of our activities fits into its box. We think of acquiring knowledge as an investment for a future career; joy is transformed into entertainment and wallows in an orgy of consuming; our creativity is crammed within the narrow limits of productivity; our relationships, even our romantic encounters, speak the language of performance and profitability…

Our alienation has reached the point where we seek out any kind of work, even voluntary, to fill our existential void, to “do something”.

The identification of work with human activity, this doctrine which presents work as human beings’ natural destiny, seems to be lodged deep within our minds. This has reached the point where to refuse this forced condition, this social constraint, seems sacrilege, something no longer even thinkable.

Thus any kind of work becomes better than not working. That is the message spread by the defenders of the existing, those who want to maintain this world by calling for an ever-more frenetic race amongst the exploited, who are supposed to trample all over each other for a few crumbs from the bosses’ table.

work3

However, it is not only the general working conditions that are leading us into this dead-end. It is work as a whole, work as a process which turns human activity into merchandise. It is work as a universal condition in which social relationships and ways of thinking are formatted.

It is work as the spinal column that holds together and perpetuates this society based on hierarchy, exploitation and oppression. And work as such must be destroyed.

We don’t just want to be happier slaves or better managers of our own misery. We want to restore meaning to human activity by acting together, guided by the quest for joie de vivre, knowledge, discovery, camaraderie and solidarity.

For individual and collective liberation, let’s liberate ourselves from work!

(Translated from anonymous leaflet Le travail libère-t-il?)

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5. Save Whitehawk Hill!

whitehawkhill

Residents of Whitehawk, a working-class district of Brighton, England, are battling to stop a new housing development being built over a designated local nature reserve.

Outraged by the plans before Brighton council, a hundred people packed into a church hall on November 12 and voted unanimously to call on the local authority to throw them out.

No political party has overall control of Brighton and Hove City Council, but Labour has the most councillors (22), with 20 Tories, 11 Greens and one independent.

A sign of the campaign’s momentum came four days after the public meeting, on November 16, when the East Brighton branch of the Labour Party unanimously called on all Labour councillors to oppose the development.

The housing scheme is being proposed by Hyde Housing, a business notorious for its profit-hungry approach.

It wants to build five blocks of flats on the local nature reserve at Whitehawk Hill, which is a common, Statutory Access land under the CROW Act and is an Ancient Neolithic Scheduled Monument.

An interesting side-issue has been the role played by something called Brighton Yimby, which claims to be a local pro-development group and announced online a “Whitehawk Says Yes” campaign in favour of the Hyde project.

An article on the Hands Off Our Sussex Countryside blog revealed that this “group” is “less grassroots and more astroturf”.

Rico Wojtulewicz

It seems to have very little support in Brighton itself, with the notable exception of local Tory politician Rico Wojtulewicz, who also happens to be the senior policy advisor for the House Builders Association (HBA), the housebuilding division of the National Federation of Builders.

Instead it is very much part of an international, mainly American, “Yimby” network described in one US article as “the darlings of the real estate industry”.

We can only assume that when BrightonYimby claimed to speak “for the interests of the many” it meant to say “money”.

yimby profits

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6. Acorninfo

An impressive series of infographics has been produced, showing the variety of complementary ideas challenging the global domination of industrial capitalism. The illustrations cover degrowth, ecofeminism, deglobalization, the commons, the Vivir Bien movement and the concept of the rights of Mother Earth. Importantly, all these perspectives are recognised as complementary and opening up the possibility of a different world. Says the website: “To build systemic alternatives it is necessary to forge strategies and proposals that at different levels confront capitalism, extractivism, productivism, patriarchy, plutocracy and anthropocentrism”.

degrowth graphics

* * *

A dynamic protest movement, NO TAP, has emerged in Melendugno, near Lecce in southern Italy, in response to the threat of the 540-mile Trans Adriatic Pipeline, due to bring gas from Azerbaijan into Europe via Turkey, Greece and Albania. Local anger was sparked in 2017 when the start of the works resulted in the uprooting of more than 200 olive trees and the creation of a securitised dead zone at the heart of the community. People have mobilised in numbers and have, inevitably, been met with repression by the police, those worldwide defenders of the industrial machine. NO TAP have produced a short video giving an idea of their full-on first year of struggle and which includes the following inspiring message: “The sun is shining for everyone, the wind is blowing for everyone… the possibility of realizing change is only a matter of will”.

notap2

* * *

A protest is to be staged against the Welsh government’s plan to build a new motorway across the Gwent Levels, to the south of Newport. It would cost taxpayers at least £1.5 billion and drive global warming, whilst destroying a landscape known for its wildlife, archaeology, tranquillity and beauty. Says the CALM campaign: “Join us to say #NoNewM4, 12.30pm, Tuesday 4th December, outside the Senedd, Cardiff Bay. Our rally is an urgent call for Wales to take a fresh path – fit for all of us today, and for all our future generations”.

NonewM4

* * *

Angry local people in eastern France are rising up against a hideous toll motorway project near Strasbourg, and some of them have been on hunger strike for a month. The 553-million Euro GCO scheme threatens many acres of forest and countryside and has been pushed through by the state and its corporate chums Vinci in spite of public inquiries coming out against it. Protesters have regularly blocked the work, causing serious delays in the project, and on November 18 some 400 people turned up to plant trees on the land already rased to make way for the new road. There is an international call-out to block Vinci everywhere in solidarity.

GCO call out

* * *

The week of action against the G20 and IMF in Argentina (see Acorn 44)  begins on Monday November 26 and the full programme of events has now gone online, in English, here. A date to keep an eye open for is Friday November 30, which is a national day of struggle against capitalism.

G20 arg

* * *

We have come across two interesting online articles about that grim industrial-capitalist cult of life-denying artificiality known as transhumanism. Libby Emmons writes that “transhumanism is oppression disguised as liberation” and “part of a giant ideological redefinition of humanity”. She warns: “In its various forms, transhumanism is an attempt to reify an illusory mind-body dualism that has consequences well beyond what we can currently imagine”. And Julian Vigo comments on the dogmatic intolerance of the transhumanist stance, which paints as reactionary any point of view which questions, for instance, the wisdom of “cutting off healthy limbs to make way for a super-Olympian sportsperson”.

transhumanism

* * *

“Thames Valley Police sent in multiple riot vans, used force against protesters several times and stood by as the Union’s private security assaulted protesters in broad daylight. One of the main chants throughout the demonstration was ‘Who protects the fascists? Police protect the fascists!'” The reality of the way that the capitalist system promotes and protects the far right was once again exposed in Oxford, UK, this month, where Islamophobic American globe-trotter Steve Bannon was met by a hostile 1,000-strong crowd when he turned up at the university. Report here.

oxforddemo

* * *

An exciting new step is being taken by the Enough is Enough project, which provides online news and info on the international struggle against capitalism, fascism and other forms of injustice. It is opening an info café in the Nordstadt district of Wuppertal, German territory. They say: “We do not just believe in a better world. We have started to live it a long time ago. And you all can decide if you want to become part of this world”. They have a crowdfunding site here.

enoughisenough

* * *

Feral Crust is an eco-anarchist collective based in Davao, Philippines, which is working on a land and community project. It is set on 1/2 hectare (1 acre) of the hilly terrain within the remaining forests that is home to native wildlife and indigenous people. You can read about their bid for land regeneration and autonomy here.

feral crust

* * *

In the midst of a devastating civil war, Kurds in Northern Syria, are building a multi-cultural society based on feminism, ecology, and direct democracy. How can these ideas lead to a lasting peace in the Middle East? What are their implications for radical politics in the West? What is it about the social structures of Rojava that inspires the fierce loyalty of its defenders and its people? Join Debbie Bookchin and David Graeber in London at the DJAM Lecture Theatre SOAS Russell Square Campus to discuss these issues Sunday November 25 from 5pm to 7pm at an event to launch the new publication Make Rojava Green Again by the Internationalist Commune in Rojava. The book will be available to buy and all proceeds from sales support the work of the Internationalist Commune. More information here.

makerojavagreenagain

* * *

Acorn quote: “This system cannot be reformed. It is based on the destruction of the earth and the exploitation of the people. There is no such thing as green capitalism, and marketing cutesy rainforest products will not bring back the ecosystems that capitalism must destroy to make its profits. This is why I believe that serious ecologists must be revolutionaries”.

Judi Bari (1949-1997)

judi bari

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

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The Acorn – 14

acornmastheadnew

Number 14


In this issue:

  1. From Rhineland to Paris, a new spirit of defiance
  2. The adrenaline of disobedience
  3. Degrowth: complete system change
  4. Yorkshire on the fracking front-line
  5. Always anti-fascist, always anti-capitalist
  6. Holistic anarchism in Turkey
  7. Acorninfo

1. From Rhineland to Paris, a new spirit of defiance

endegelande4
Direct action – protesters push through police lines on their way to the mines

A new spirit of defiant energy has energised the radical environmental and anti-capitalist movement in Europe over the summer.

Signs of this resurgence have been evident for some months (see Acorn 7 ), but a notable catalyst has been the dramatic mass action against lignite mining in Germany’s Rhineland on August 15.

Videos like this, alongside first-hand accounts, have enthused activists and injected a new sense of purpose that goes beyond the specific climate cause to a broader and deeper anti-capitalism and anti-industrialism.

endegelande6
Mass invasion – this mega-industrial site was closed down for the day

As one participant at the successful, if damp, Earth First! summer gathering told The Acorn: “People have been so inspired by what happened in Germany, even if they didn’t succeed in everything they tried to do. It’s all changed now – you can feel that a surge towards a radical, direct-action approach in all sorts of areas.”

The Ende Gelände (“Here and No Further”) mass action saw people push through police lines and storm a huge lignite mining site at in Garzweiler, west of Cologne, closing it for the day.

Said a live report from the action: “Today has been a greater success than anyone could have imagined. 1500 people taking part in the action is more than anyone was expecting. 1000 of those people were able to enter the mine and shut down two diggers for the day. Each digger is capable of tearing 240,000 tons of coal from the ground every day so the significance of this should not be underestimated”.

The Laboratory of Insurrectionary Imagination (Labofii) blog site says: “In that brief day everything changed for the European climate justice movement. Thousands experienced a collective power rarely felt within the competitive obedient individualism of capitalism”.

cop21-paris

Eyes are now turning to the COP 21 climate conference in Paris in December, where protests are set to be much more lively than previously thought possible.

An alliance of hundreds of NGOs and grassroots groups from around the world have called for a day of action on December the 12th, named D12, to be held at the end of the summit (officially the talks end on Friday 11th but historically, they have never finished on time and have always stretched into the next day).

Adds the Labofii blog: “Thousands are estimated to come to Paris to take part and if we play things right it could well be the next biggest act of disobedience for climate justice.

“The problem is that there aren’t any big excavators, pipe lines or power stations to block in Paris, so what kind of tactics would be relevant especially as we don’t want to give legitimacy to the broken UN process?

“The corporations and governments have failed us, it is time to take things into our own hands”.

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2. The adrenaline of disobedience

endegelande7
“I’m just so scared” – many courageous protesters were well outside their personal comfort zone

An important element this summer has been the involvement in direct action of people who would not normally be engaged on that level, due to the growing awareness of the seriousness of the environmental crisis and the evident fact that the system is not going to address it.

Take, for instance, this dramatic account of the Rhineland action:

“I’m running and I’m running and I’m just one, just one amongst hundreds of people running to escape the batons and the pepper spray, running to break through the police line and run on and on across the field to the mine.

“But as we’re running and my legs are pumping and the adrenaline’s thumping I turn and see something that makes my blood turn cold and time stand still. I see a man made massive with body armour and a helmet and a baton, and I see him throw his shoulder back and form a fist and smash the full brutal weight of his aggression into the face of an oncoming woman.

“She crumples but I don’t even see her hit the floor because I’m running and oh fuck me am I running and I’m thinking that this isn’t what I signed up for and I don’t want to be here and christ I’m just so scared. Because I am not an activist. This isn’t what I do. I’m a relatively normal, middle aged chap who does clicktivism when he can find the time.

“Direct action is not my thing. I’m not cut out to be here, running with hundreds of people across the fields of the Rhineland to try and close for one day a sodding great lignite mine”.

Ende Gelände Aktion

The Labofii writer confirms: “I have never seen so many people jump so far out of their comfort zones and take direct action for the first time. Never have I been part of such disciplined determined disobedience, whose tone seemed so perfectly balanced”.

Of course, the reality of being scared, and out of your comfort zone, means that the movement needs a collective inner strength. This can only be drawn from a world-view that accepts the reality of repression and the logical necessity of disobedience that strays beyond the narrow limits of “protest” as dictated by those who want it to remain safely ineffective and uninspiring.

The writer adds: “The more successful we become the more repression we will see. I lived through the rise and fall of the antiglobalisation movement and Occupy and neither of these movements were prepared enough for the inevitable repression that was to come.

“The liberal myth that ‘if we are non-violent then the state will not be violent towards us’ must be buried once and for all, it is dangerous and strategically useless.

“When you start to win, they start to fight harder than you ever imagined. First they divide and conquer, then co-opt and digest the movements. Only a broad space of disobedience where we do not condemn the actions of others will keep us strong.

“The tactical success of the 90s anti roads movements in the UK, which managed to force the government to cancel 700 road schemes, was that whilst there were the people living in tree houses and tunnels on the sites blocking the destruction and many big days of openly called disobedience where we would digger dive together, there were also forays at night by what were known as pixies, who armed with sugar and wrenches put the earth wrecking machines gently to sleep.

“Our movements are going to need these big open days of disobedience, the long months of Blokadia and site occupations and the night time secrets if we are to be efficient”.

Ende Gelände Aktion

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3. Degrowth: complete system change

The Only Sustainable Growth is Degrowth

The title of a recent book describes degrowth as presenting “A Vocabulary for a New Era”, but because the term “degrowth” is relatively unknown in the UK, there is sometimes confusion as to what it implies.

Degrowth book

Some activists imagine that it refers purely to a reformist approach, some kind of watered-down pale green theory, whereas in fact the term increasingly describes a complete opposition to the capitalist system and everything that comes with it.

Following on from the degrowth day at the Anarchist Action Network’s East London Rising week, there was a Degrowth Summer School in Germany linked to the mine protests.

degrowth summer school2

The emphasis there was very much on fighting the capitalist industrial system with the broadest possible range of tactics, including direct action.

Reports the Labofii blog: “In the main circus tent which holds several hundred people, we heard from speakers fighting against coal mines and nuclear power in India, oil extraction in the Amazon, first nations communities resisting the toxic disaster of the Alberta tar sands and eco-anarchists living in tree-houses to stop the expansion of one of the Hambach forest defence lignite mines nearby.

“We watched plays created and performed by refugees and asylum seekers. We took part in debates around new forms of radical democracy between people from the anti austerity M15 spanish movements, Greek Anarchists describing the self managed health, food and production systems that have risen from the economic collapse and a Kurdish representative explaining the experiments in municipal libertarianism which is building a nation without a state, founded on feminism, ecology and radical autonomy in northern Syria”.

degrowth summer school3

In her report for the Degrowth.de website, Christiane Kliemann reported that there had been discussion about the COP 21 summit in Paris, in which it was stressed that it was important not to repeat the reformist NGO-inspired mistakes of Copenhagen by creating hope around the official process and thus accepting the lies of the capitalist system.

“The movement has to stay firm instead and insist that it is not about climate change alone, but complete system change”.

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4. Yorkshire on the fracking front-line

Fracking Yorkshire

Yorkshire is being seen as the new front-line in the UK battle against fracking, with just under a third of the proposed oil and gas licences announced in August targeting it, reports the Drill or Drop website.

Northern anti-fracking groups have vowed to unite to prevent any fracking in the north of England as a whole – Lancashire, Cheshire and Lincolnshire are also in the sights of the fracking business, whose profiteering is to be fast-tracked past growing public opposition by the complicit British state.

Pippa Hockey from Frack Free East Yorkshire said, “The more they try and push fracking on us, the harder we will fight back. We have made friends all over the UK, especially with other groups in the north, and now we will all work together to stop fracking happening anywhere”.

Frack Off have produced an online guide to fighting fracking – it is available here.

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5. Always anti-fascist, always anti-capitalist

Anti-fascists owning the streets in Liverpool
Anti-fascists owning the streets in Liverpool

A significant moment in the struggle against the British extreme right was enjoyed in Liverpool on August 15 2015.

The mobilisation against the neo-Nazi ‘White Man March’ in Liverpool was, in the words of the Anti-Fascist Network, “an outstanding victory for militant anti-fascism and an utter humiliation and total rout for National Action”.

A spokesperson was also quoted as saying: “The event has already been dubbed the ‘Battle of Lime Street’. This might be the biggest anti-fascist victory in the UK for 20 or 30 years”.

While this might be disputed by Brighton anti-fascists who have consistently seen off threats from EDL-supporting fascists, or indeed anti-fascists in the likes of Walthamstow, the Liverpool action was certainly impressive.

The neo-Nazis didn’t manage to march, or even stage a static rally – in fact they didn’t even leave the railway station and were forced to hide in a left luggage shop as a huge crowd of anti-fascists jeered and heckled them and pelted them with water bottles, eggs, bananas, milk, orange juice and sundry other grocery products.

wmm2

One of the many good things the day achieved was to show that the most effective way of stopping and humiliating fascists is not by holding a worthy-but-dull rally at the other end of town, but to go to them and directly face up to them.

This approach not only works, but also illustrates the strength of the general anarchist approach of confrontation and non-collaboration with police and authorities.

It is a reminder that the radical anti-fascist movement in the UK is very much part of the broader struggle. It does not take to the streets to defend fake “democracy” but to defend our freedom and to defend the political space from which we can attack the capitalist system.

In many ways, in fact, it actually is the anti-capitalist movement, but in the defensive mode needed to stop the streets being taken over by nazis.

And anti-fascists are not going to wait until the last fascist has disappeared off the face of the planet before they commit to destroying the sick capitalist system that spawned them.

Always anti-fascist, always anti-capitalist!alwaysantifascist

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6. Holistic anarchism in Turkey

DAF2

An interview shedding light on the Turkish anarchist movement, and its links to the Kurdish struggle, has been published by Corporate Watch.

Researchers spoke to three members of Devrimci Anarşist Faaliyet (DAF, or Revolutionary Anarchist Action) in Istanbul. DAF are involved in solidarity with the Kurdish struggle, the Rojava revolution and against ISIS’s attack on Kobane, and have taken action against Turkish state repression and corporate abuse. They are attempting to establish alternatives to the current system through self-organisation, mutual aid and co-operatives.

DAF describe their anarchism as “holistic”, an anarchism without adjectives that refuses to be limited by too specific an orientation.

They say: “The main issue for DAF is to organise anarchism within society. We try to socialize anarchism with struggle on the streets. This is what we give importance to. For nearly nine years we have been doing this.

daf

“On an ideological level we have a holistic perspective. We don’t have a hierarchical perspective on struggles. We think workers’ struggle is important but not more important than the Kurdish struggle or women’s struggles or ecological struggles.

“Capitalism tries to divide these struggles. If the enemy is attacking us in a holistic way we have to approach it in a holistic way”.

Part of their outlook is to stress the historical anarchist continuity between the struggles for freedom towards the end of Ottoman Empire and today’s struggle for freedom in Kurdistan.

They explain: “In Ottoman times anarchists organised workers’ struggle in the main cities: Saloniki, Izmir, Istanbul and Cairo. For example [the Italian anarchist, Errico] Malatesta was involved in organizing industrial workers in Cairo.

Armenian anarchist Atabekian
Armenian anarchist Atabekian

“The freedom struggles of Armenia, Bulgaria and Greece had connections with anarchist groups. Alexander Atabekian, an important person in the Armenian freedom struggle, was an anarchist, translating leaflets into Armenian and distributing them. He was a friend of Kropotkin and distributed Kropotkin’s anarchist leaflets.

“Towards the end of the Ottoman Empire, at the end of the 19th century, Sultan Abdul Hamid II repressed the actions of anarchists in Turkey. He knew what anarchists were and took a special interest in them. He killed or deported anarchists and set up a special intelligence agency for this purpose.

“Anarchists responded by carrying out attacks on the Yildiz Sarayi palace and with explosions at the Ottoman bank in Saloniki.

“The government of the Ottoman Empire didn’t end at the Turkish republic. The fez has gone since but the system is still the same”.

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7. Acorninfo

More details are emerging of the multiple actions planned against the DSEI arms fair in London’s Docklands this month (see Acorn 13). A bid to disrupt the setting-up of the event includes a Stop Arming Israel day on Monday September 7 and an environment day of action on Wednesday September 9, before the big day of protest on Saturday September 12. More info at http://www.stopthearmsfair.org.uk/events/

DSEI poster

* * *

A street party against the gentrification of London is being staged in Shoreditch on Saturday September 26. Says the call-out for Fuck Parade 3: “Our communities are being ripped apart – by Russian oligarchs, Saudi Sheiks, Israeli scumbag property developers, Texan oil-money twats and our own home-grown Eton toffs. Local authorities are coining it in, in a short sighted race for cash by ‘regenerating’ social housing. We will protest this economic warfare with a street party on September 26th”. Meet Shoreditch overground station from 7pm.

fuckparadesep26

* * *

Police in the USA are reacting to the swelling wave of protest by buying acoustic cannon that can be used to fire deafening noises at crowds of people, a report has revealed. The weapons have been used, mainly as loudspeakers, at various Black Lives Matter events over the last 12 months and in Ferguson, the LRAD cannon was fired on protesters who had assembled in the street. The device can reach 152 decibels, a level that can cause permanent hearing damage.

June 3, 2010 Police demonstrate the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD). The Integrated Security Unit for the G20 held a technical briefing at the Toronto Police College. The technical briefing is designed to feature specialized units from the Toronto Police Service, Peel Regional Police, the OPP, the RCMP and the Canadian Forces that will be utilized during the G20. It will provide an opportunity for the media to become familiar with what they will see on the streets of Toronto during the summit from a law enforcement and security perspective. Units on display include Police Dog Services, Mounted Unit, Marine Unit, Public Safety Unit, Traffic Services, Video Services, Emergency Task Force and Tactical Emergency Services from both Toronto EMS and Toronto Fire Services. (Carlos Osorio/Toronto Star)

* * *

The role of British police spy Mark Kennedy in the persecution of the alleged “Invisible Committee” in France (see Acorn 13) is explored in an article on the undercoverinfo blog. Part of his role was to provide “intelligence” on an alleged international meeting of anarchists in New York, says the article.

Mark Kennedy
Police spy Mark Kennedy

* * *

A video of a feisty No Borders demonstration on the French-Italian border has been posted online. Migrants living in the camp at Ventimiglia (see Acorn 13) had tried to travel by train to Menton in France but were forcibly turned back by police.

ventimiglia protest

* * *

Two anarchist bookfairs are to be held within a couple of days in October. First there is the 2015 London Anarchist Bookfair, which is being staged on Saturday October 24 from 10am to 7pm at a new venue – Central St Martin’s behind Kings Cross rail station. And on October 24 and 25 comes the fifth annual Helsinki Anarchist Bookfair in Finland, at Peace Station, East-Pasila district of Helsinki (Veturitori 3).

anarchist bookfair

* * *

Acorn quote: “Sociability and need of mutual aid and support are such inherent parts of human nature that at no time of history can we discover men living in small isolated families, fighting each other for the means of subsistence”.

Peter Kropotkin, Mutual Aid.

mutual aid

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

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The Acorn – 13

acornmastheadnew

Number 13


In this issue:

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

1. Tarnac – a victory against the system

tarnac demo

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

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

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

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

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

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

cominginsurrection

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

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

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

See also:

Anti-terrorism is not what it says it is

Tarnac: state persecution starts again

“Insurrection has been waiting to break out”

French resistance to concrete future

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2. Terrorists head for London Docklands

Murder weapons for sale at DSEI

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

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

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

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

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

dsei_class-leaflet1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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3. Camp to inspire resistance to capitalism

rtf poster

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

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

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

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

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

North-Wales-Prison
The proposed prison near Wrexham

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

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

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

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

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

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

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4. Fracking resistance is putting the Earth First!

EF!SG15poster-small

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

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

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

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

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

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

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5. Tourism targeted by anti-capitalists in France

roybon
Protesting against the Center Parcs plan for Roybon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The magazine is published by Le monde à l’envers

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

or http://grenoble.indymedia.org

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6. Video: camp resists logging industry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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7. Acorninfo

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

riots of 2011
England in August 2011

* * *

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

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

* * *

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

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

* * *

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

plane stupid lhr
The Heathrow protest in July

* * *

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

Henry Miller, Tropic of Capricorn

henrymiller4

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

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The Acorn – 12

acornmastheadnew

Number 12


In this issue:

  1. Anarchy resurgent!
  2. East London Rising!
  3. Anarchism, capitalism and industry
  4. Anarchism in chains?
  5. Terror and the capitalist system
  6. Anti-terrorism is not what it says it is
  7. UK anarchists pull off cheeky repeat factory occupation
  8. Anti-road resistance in Rize
  9. Acorninfo

1. Anarchy resurgent!

anarchyart

Hopeful signs are emerging that anarchism is on the point of an invigorating worldwide resurgence in the second half of the second decade of the 21st century.

The abject sell-out of Syriza in Greece, together with the general redundancy of the Left (see Acorn 11) and the increasing irrelevance of “democratic” institutions in the face of total corporate-military control are all paving the way for a revival.

And anarchism itself is responding by rediscovering some of the vigour and spirit it lost in the course of a 20th century in which radical idealism was crushed not just by capitalism but by its fake adversary, state-capitalist communism.

Anarchists are increasingly leaving behind the dull bureaucratic brand of anarchism (see below) that has sometimes given it a bad name in past decades.

And they are deepening their commitment to action as well as to words, to a heart-felt belief in the rightness of the anarchist ideal rather than to a dusty dogmatic affiliation, to an urgent need to challenge and confront the capitalist beast wherever it rears its head.

This real anarchism understands that while fascism has to be fought in the streets, it has hidden strongholds in the board rooms, in the police stations, in the prisons and detention centres.

It understands that to oppose militarism is to oppose capitalism in its most raw and directly murderous incarnation.

It appreciates that capitalism also takes on a physical form in all its infrastructure – the roads, airports, factories, power stations and high-speed rail lines that are destroying this world in a never-ending hunger for profit.

Emma Goldman
Emma Goldman

There is nothing new in all this, of course. This authentic anarchism, which has never entirely died out, was the anarchism of the great figures of the 19th and early 20th centuries – giants like Mikael Bakunin, Voltairine de Cleyre, Emma Goldman and Gustav Landauer.

And now today’s rebels are ready to turn their backs on the sterile libertarianised marxism that has too often been passed off as anarchism, as they embrace the power and glory of the real thing!

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2. East London Rising!

EL-Rising-banner2

A good example of this budding anarchist renaissance is the East London Rising event being staged by the Anarchist Action Network at the London Action Resource Centre (LARC), Whitechapel, from Monday August 3 to Sunday August 9.

With a whole week of free workshops and discussions on various themes, it sets out to bring together a diverse spectrum of campaigning issues, while explaining how they all form part of the one anarchist struggle.

Of particular significance, perhaps, is the Environment and Degrowth day, on Tuesday August 4, which emphasises the way that the anarchist fight against capitalism is also a fight against industrialism and ecocide.

As The Acorn went to press, this day was due to start at 2-3pm with a workshop by Luddites200 on “Thinking about technology and degrowth – a Luddite perspective.”

This is to be followed from 3 to 4pm with a presentation by Earth First! and then from 5-6pm the London Mining Network will talk on “Collective, horizontal and consensus-based: How Indigenous self-organisation has stopped international mining giants”.

From 7pm to 8pm Transition Heathrow will do a workshop on resistance, degrowth and anarchism and then from 8pm Corporate Watch will be dealing with climate change and anti-capitalism.

Also worth noting is the anti-militarism day, which is part of the build-up of resistance to the DSEI arms fair being held in East London this September.

resistance

The full week’s line-up is as follows:

Monday Aug 3 – Anti-racism, Anti-borders
Tuesday Aug 4 – Environment & degrowth
Wednesday Aug 5 – Skillshares
Thursday Aug 6 – Benefits claimants and workers rights
Friday Aug 7 – Housing struggles and anti-eviction
Saturday Aug 8 – Anti-militarism and anti-imperialism
Sunday Aug 9 – Anarchism

LARC is situated at 62 Fieldgate Street, Whitechapel, London, E1 1ES. The nearest underground stations are Whitechapel, Aldgate East and Aldgate.

https://www.anarchistaction.net/east-london-rising/

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3. Anarchism, capitalism and industry

cogs-in-a-machine

Neither anarcho-capitalism nor anarcho-industrialism make any sense because anarchism stands directly opposed to capitalism and to the industrial infrastructure on which it depends.

That is the conclusion to a recent article by anarchist writer Paul Cudenec, in which he questions whether this is always fully understood by anarchists.

In particular, he challenges the received wisdom that the only issue that need concern anarchists about industry relates to who controls it. He asks whether fracking would suddenly become acceptable if Cuadrilla was a workers’ co-op.

A detail from LS Lowry's The Canal Bridge (1949)

Cudenec adds: “I find it hard to believe that anyone’s idea of a future anarchist society could include factories of any kind. Who would be working in them if we didn’t live in a capitalist society where people desperately need to earn money to survive? Why would anyone work in a factory if they didn’t have to? In an anarchist society, what kind of social, economic or physical compulsion could be applied to make people work in factories if, as seems likely, they didn’t particularly want to?

“Why do anarcho-industrialists think that factories came into existence in the first place? To help the workers? To make life better for all of us? Because we collectively needed the mass production of the things that factories make?

“Or was it so that a small group of entrepreneurs could make profit out of them? Isn’t industrial society entirely a product of capitalism?”

The full article can be read at network23.org/paulcudenec

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4. Anarchism in chains?

Untitled

Some thought-provoking reflections on the smothered state of anarchism in the UK are contained in a controversial booklet called Anarchy – Civil or Subversive, now updated and online here.

In the introduction, the late Darko Matthers condemns “civil anarchism” as “a horizontal citizenism which speaks the language of democracy (rights, laws, social inclusion, consensus, protest).”

He adds: “Apart from maintaining democracy’s image of dialogue and permitted dissent, civil society also is a recuperating mediator and handily picks up services for the state and business, curbing some of their excesses to allow the smoother functioning of the system. Many ‘anarchist’ (or rather libertarian) activists work for NGOs, trade unions and the parasitic den of academia.

“There’s a direct feedback loop through academia, activists and the social bureaucracy about the bizarre language codes and identity politics of political correctness.”

One contributor to the booklet writes: “Civil anarchism turns on any anarchist or activist who dares reject the group-think and organise themselves outside of ‘acceptable limits’; and like all political groups, the civil anarchists tend toward homogeneity, centralisation, hierarchy, delegation and censorship, however much it is all dressed up as consensus”.

On a positive note, reflecting the new resurgence in authentic anarchism, another writer declares: “Anarchy appears to us as the life force of the planet, the creative destroyer which has never been extinguished from the pages of civilisation by the determined forces of ignorance and repression”.

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5. Terror and the capitalist system

suruc bomb

The massacre at the Amara Culture Centre in Suruç (Pîrsus), Kurdistan (within the Turkish state), last week has raised fears of a new phase in so-called “terrorism”.

At least two anarchists were killed in the bombing of the left-wing centre – they have been named as Alper Sapan from Anarchy Initiative Eskişehir and Evrim Deniz Erol from Urfa.

The attack is seen as an assault on the initiative to rebuild Kobanê after the ISIS attack last year. A report on the Rabble website reports: “Comrades in Turkey and Kurdistan say that it was done by ISIS in collusion with the Turkish state”.

It is not just Turkey that colludes with ISIS – along with other Islamist guerrilla groups, ISIS has many traceable links to Western intelligence. These have been apparent in various armed conflicts from Afghanistan to Bosnia to Algeria.

ISISpic

Author Nafeez Ahmed has been at the forefront of exposing what he described as long ago as 2006, in his important book The London Bombings, as “the covert alliance between British state interests and Islamist terrorist networks”.

He writes: “The international terrorist network implicated in the London bombings extends to a number of regions, including the Balkans, Asia and Africa (namely North and West). In all these areas militant Islamist networks have operated in collaboration with the military and intelligence institutions of Britain, the US and European countries.

“These policies and operations, many of which continue to exist today, can be linked to concerted attempts by American, British and European states to secure a variety of regional strategic and economic interests, largely related to energy concerns.”

The current wave of Islamist terrorism is often regarded as the modern equivalent of the Cold War “Gladio” network of far-right extremists controlled by US and UK intelligence.

As Ganser sets out in his book NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe, right-wing extremists including surviving Nazis and Fascists were recruited by US and British intelligence at the end of the Second World War to form an “anti-communist” terror network.

Ostensibly intended to fight any Soviet invasion of Europe, it quickly switched to countering the threat to capitalism posed by radicals, carrying out “false flag” attacks blamed on leftists and anarchists as part of a “strategy of tension” to create fear and drive the public into the “safe” hands of the capitalist state.

ganser

In Turkey, from the 1960s, there was an extreme right Turkish militia called the Grey Wolves (Bozkurt), described by author Daniele Ganser as “a brutal network of trained and armed men ready to use violence to further the cause of Pan-Turkism”.

The Grey Wolves were eventually exposed as having been part of a CIA-run secret army dedicated to protecting Western capitalist interests. One of those who spoke out was General Talat Turhan, himself involved in a coup d’etat, who later declared: “This is the secret unit of the NATO countries”.

Although the Gladio network was exposed most fully in Italy (the Bologna bombing was one of its murderous acts, for instance), it operated across Europe, including the UK, where the conflict in the north of Ireland was an ideal training ground.

The worrying lack of knowledge and understanding, even in radical circles, of the extent to which terrorism was secretly deployed by the capitalist system from the 1940s to the 1980s sadly means that there is little to stop it using the same techniques again today.

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6. Anti-terrorism is not what it says it is

anti-terrorist police

“Anti-terrorism” is not at all what it seems – it is in fact the deliberately misleading label given to a global psychological war waged against most of humanity by a controlling elite.

That is the message from an article in Guccio, a new international radical magazine.

The authors begin by stating that, despite all appearances, anti-terrorism’s main target is not the people it declares to be “terrorists”, but the population as a whole.

anti-terrorist propaganda
Fear as a means of control – anti-terrorist propaganda

 

They add: “There is no one legal definition of terrorism, and this is why there are so many definitions – more than a hundred different ones all across the world. ‘Terrorism’ is a political category.”

Essentially the label “terrorist” is an attempt to translate into legal terminology the vaguer notion of an enemy – an enemy of the system. Since the system itself designates its enemies, it also controls the definition of “terrorist”.

The idea that anti-terrorist laws are a reaction to actual “terrorist” threats is false. The authors point out: “It is known that among the 11 proposals for international anti-terrorist legislation submitted by the EU during the autumn of 2001 ‘in reaction to 9/11’, six had already been formulated before the attacks, four were already in preparation and only one, concerning asylum and immigration was actually new.

“We also know that the UK, one of the main engines behind this whole process, had already passed the Terrorism Act 2000 which, without saying so openly, was aimed at ‘subversive’ political movements, mainly the anti-globalisation movement.”

Genoa-protests2
Redefined as “terrorism” – the anti-globalisation protests in Genoa in 2001

For the Italian General Fabio Mini, after the anti-capitalist protests in Genoa in 2001 there was already no doubt that “violent contestation of the global system is equal in this case to terrorism”.

The Guccio article explains that a 2002 EU framework defines as terrorism any action likely “to severely undermine a country or an international organisation”, with the aim of “severely intimidating a population” or to “severely destabilize or destroy the fundamental political, constitutional, economic structures of a country or an international organization”.

While Margaret Thatcher had already tried to use anti-terrorist laws against striking miners in the 1980s, the practice has now become widespread.

From indignados in Barcelona to occupiers of a city hall in Greece, from the alleged authors of The Coming Insurrection in France, to environmental activists from the No Tav movement in Italy – all have been accused of “terrorism” for daring to challenge the capitalist system.

Even organisers of protests against the 2014 World Cup in Brazil were arrested under “anti-terrorist” legislation.

not-terrorists
Why do we even have to say that we are not “terrorists”?

It is not just the legal route that is used by the industrial capitalist system as part of its “anti-terrorist” war on dissent.

The article cites a paper on defeating anti-globalisation movements which suggests “disinformation and infiltration by agents provocateurs seeking to control and sabotage”.

Mark Kennedy
British police spy Mark Kennedy – infiltrated the anti-capitalist movement on a European scale

The authors comment: “If we have in mind the European scale of the infiltration carried out by British police spy Mark Kennedy, as well as the police’s strategies during some anti-summit protests, we can be certain that these few lines are not empty rhetoric, but a global policy being conducted against us. We therefore need a counter-strategy, on a scale as global as the enemy’s manoeuvres.

“It is very unfortunate that we failed to turn the scandal raised in England by the Mark Kennedy case into a European affair challenging the activities of the various police forces that resorted to his services.”

They stress this international aspect more than once, pointing out that “nowhere we have succeeded in our attempts to neutralise anti-terrorism. One of the reasons why we fail may be that we have always struggled against it at a national level, whereas it represents a global policy.

“When the enemy’s victories arise from the fact that it has a global strategy against us, whereas we do not have one against it, we have to undertake a new international strategic debate, at least European-wide, in order to be able once again to address the situation.”

They also suggest that the way we conduct our struggles can help undermine the absurd smear of “terrorism”.

“When their tactic consists in ascribing a feeling of terror to any revolutionary movement, we must make people laugh, mock our enemies, show a great deal of wit. A funny terrorist is already not a terrorist anymore.”

They say that for years now, the anti-terrorist establishment has tried to associate direct action against the system with a feeling of fear, whereas the feeling for those on the streets is one of liberation: “It is crucial to break this spell… spark complicity. Bind together once again the idea of revolution with the idea of increasing power, of joy.”

june18
The joy of protesting – the Carnival Against Capital in London on June 18 1999

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7. UK anarchists pull off cheeky repeat factory occupation

elbitjuly6
The Kent occupation on July 6 2015

Activists from the Anarchist Action Network formed part of the second rooftop occupation of an Israeli factory in Kent on Monday July 6.

This marked the anniversary of the 2014 attack on Gaza and coincided with the Block the Factory protest in Shenstone, in the Midlands.

Alongside Palestine solidarity campaigners and other anti-militarist comrades, the AAN participants launched an early-morning assault on Instro, a fully-owned subsidiary of drone manufacturer Elbit, which makes optical guidance components.

The compound and roof were both taken by 4am, with a sound system on the ground inside, a lock-on to the main gate and other protesters remaining outside the premises on the Broadstairs industrial estate.

Police turned up, initially in large numbers, and at one point were spotted trying to climb on to the roof from the back of the building – however, their ladder was not long enough and they retreated!

The factory was closed for the whole day and the occupation crew exited the premises under their own steam after a 12-hour stint.

The same factory was previously occupied, again with AAN involvement, in February this year. No arrests were made on either occasion. (See “What is Elbit scared of?” in Acorn 3)

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8. Anti-road resistance in Rize

turkroad1

The Turkish state sent in military police to attack local people in the Black Sea province of Rize who had formed a human chain to halt road-building bulldozers.

Fierce resistance to the ecocidal industrialist project broke out in Rize’s Çamlıhemşin district where locals opposed the connection of Yukarı Kavun and Samistal pastures, fearing that the new road would push housing and industry into the untouched nature of the region.

Havva Bekar, one of the most senior members of the group, has become a social media phenomenon. In a video shared by thousands of social media users on July 11, Bekar was heard rebuking security forces at the construction site with a stick in her hand.

“We don’t want this road. We are the people. Who is the state? The state is a state thanks to us,” she said.

Infrastructure projects threatening Turkey’s Black Sea region have become a source of growing conflict between the capitalist Turkish state and the population.

Most recently on July 9, tension rose between gendarmerie forces and locals in Artvin, with local activists trying to prevent untouched forest in the region from being cleared for new mining facilities.

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9. Acorninfo

Activists from Plane Stupid staged a dramatic lock-on protest at Heathrow on Monday July 13 in opposition to a third runway there – and to any other airport expansion. One of them told The Independent that they had a direct message to the Government and the aviation industry: “We want to be clear that the anti-airport expansion movement is back and we’re here to stay. ‘No, ifs, no buts, no third runway’. We mean it.”

heathrow protest

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“A polite knock on the door of a Mr John Shaw of Hastings got Emily Johns a visit from the police. How so? He’s the CEO of a secretive ‘non-profit company’ that’s using tens of millions of pounds of public funds to build white elephant business parks and destroy valuable nature sites. And avoiding accountability looks like a major point of the exercise.” An article exposing the activities of SeaChange in Sussex, UK, (see Acorn 8) has been published by The Ecologist. Worth a read.

SeaChange logo

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Prison abolition is on the agenda at the Cowley Club, 12 London Road, Brighton, on the evening of Monday July 27. From 7pm Sussex Anarchists will be hosting a workshop from the Open Cages Collective, calling for anarchist resistance to prisons and in particular the new super-prison to be built at Wrexham.

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Online dissent is being systematically sabotaged by a special intelligence unit run by the British state, an article has revealed. Documents published by The Intercept demonstrate how the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), a unit of the signals intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), is involved in efforts against political groups it considers “extremist”. The spooks’ work includes creating fake online identities to promote state and corporate agendas and disrupting “extremist” websites and emails. The full report can be read here.

propaganda-ministry

* * *

A robot killed a young man at one of Volkswagen’s production plants in Germany on Monday June 29, the firm has admitted. The machine grabbed the 22 year old and crushed him against a metal plate. A spokesman blamed “human error” – yes indeed, human error in creating robots in the first place!

robottkiller

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“Why we hate the police” is the title of an anonymous online leaflet from France. It reads, in part: “We hate the police because there will soon no longer be a single move we can make, a single road we can walk down, the smallest corner of our existences in which we can escape from their surveillance and their punishment. We hate the police because we hate control. We hate the police because a good cop is always more dangerous than a bad one. Because the police are the last bulwark stopping this rotting society from collapsing. Because they are the armed wing of the thing that is slowly and surely killing us. Because the police will always be an obstacle between the life we have and the life we want…”

why we hate police

* * *

Acorn quote: “The same era that saw the English peasant expropriated from his common lands saw the Bengal peasant made a parasite in his own country”. Edward J. Thompson, The Life of Charles, Lord Metcalfe.

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

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