1. “Welcome to hell!” Hamburg tells capitalist leaders
Razor wire, water cannons and snipers are being lined up to protect the leaders of the capitalist world when they descend on Hamburg at the start of July.
The authorities are deploying 20,000 police to protect Trump, Putin, Erdogan, Merkel, May, Macron et al, turning the city into “a virtual fortress” under “something close to a state of emergency”, according to German media.
Summits like these were forced out of city centres 15 years ago by massive international anti-capitalist protests, with the global elite fleeing to inaccessible rural retreats.
But those in power now seem prepared to face the possible wrath of tens of thousands of opponents by holding the 2017 G20 Summit in downtown Hamburg.
The potential is clearly there for levels of resistance that would renew the energy of militant European anti-capitalism, as The Acornpreviously pointed out back in November.
The authorities are of the same opinion. Der Spiegel’sEnglish-language website says officials are expecting up to 100,000 protesters “including militant groups seeking to disrupt or, if they can, prevent the summit”.
It adds: “The autonomous protest scene, which has a strong network across Europe, views the summit as a unique opportunity to restore their reputation within their political spectrum.
“Officials at the LKA [Landeskriminalamt] believe the radical anti-globalists will converge on summit sites from all directions in multiple prongs. If one prong fails to get through, the protesters hope another will be able to surmount the barriers.”
The article cites research conducted by Germany’s Federal Office of Criminal Investigation (BKA) as having detected activists in the Netherlands, the UK, Switzerland and Italy preparing to travel to the G20 summit. Other protest groups are expected from Austria and Greece, it says. And Kurds are likely to turn up in numbers to protest against Turkish leader Erdogan.
The authorities are, of course, rolling out their heavy weaponry to protect the powerful capitalist elite they serve. They are not only deploying miles of razor wire, but also water cannons, mounted police, dog units, snipers and “special forces”.
A new prison capable of hosting 400 people has kindly been laid on for protesters. The German federal police’s elite GSG 9 “counterterrorism” unit will also be in town.
Needless to say, extra-special protection is being laid on for the leader of the country which spearheads neoliberal capitalist imperialism – the USA. The Americans are even implying that they reserve the right to shoot dead any protesters getting in the way of Mr President.
Reports Der Spiegel: “When U.S. President Donald Trump’s motorcade drives through the city, the streets will have to be empty. The doors of his Cadillac, nicknamed ‘The Beast’, are equipped with titanium armor and are as heavy as those of a Boeing 757 jet. The car even has its own oxygen system that can protect the president against a chemical weapons attack.
“The car has 8 tons of security technology and it cannot be allowed to come to any unplanned stops. Interior Senator Grote has already warned protesters against seeking to try and block Trump’s motorcade, saying nobody knows how the American Secret Service might react.”
Ahead of the summit, on Sunday July 2, there will be a symbolic and non-confrontational “wave of protest” with tens of thousands of people in the port city of Hamburg, on land and on the water.
Then on Thursday July 6 there will be an international anti-capitalist demonstration against the G20 summit entitled “G20 Welcome to hell!“. This gathers at 4pm at the St Pauli Fischmarkt in Hamburg with a meeting involving cultural, musical and political contributions. From 7pm the demonstration will head towards the “red zone” and the final meeting will be held a stone’s throw from the summit’s location in the exhibition halls.
The fight against the ecocidal fossil fuel industry is stepping up, with an impressive mass civil disobedience action staged in the Netherlands on Saturday June 24.
Some 350 people occupied the coal harbour of Amsterdam, forcing it to shut down all activity for the day.
Said the Code Rood (Code Red) website: “We ruled the industry today, but the fight against the fossil industries continues.
“There is no time to lose. While the climate is already visibly changing and politicians allow for continued record-breaking greenhouse gas emissions we are building a militant climate movement that makes a switch from mass protest to mass disobedience.
“We are calling for everybody to join us in this collective struggle. When we join forces we can break the power of the fossil fuel industry!”
The successful action was linked to the nearby Climate Camp, which had opened two days previously.
The occupation did not go unopposed – protesters reported that once inside the site, they were sprayed with foul water “smelling of mud and manure”.
But more than 50 people managed to get to the top of a crane belonging to Coal Transport Terminal Amsterdam (OBA) with a banner declaring: ‘Robbers’ state is killing the climate.’
Wolfmann, one of the hundreds present who were taking part in a civil disobedience action for the first time, said: “It feels incredibly powerful and at the same time very vulnerable. You go with nothing other than your body to try and blockade the fossil fuel industry, that makes you feel vulnerable. At the same time you are with all these people and so you feel very strong together.”
Said another participant: “We are here because as long as there is profit to be made, they will not stop destroying the earth!”
The way in which the neoliberal capitalist system uses the spectre of terrorism to impose its own social agenda has often been highlighted in The Acorn (such as here or here).
And one of the most blatant uses of this repressive device is currently unfolding in France, prompting urgent calls for resistance.
For the last 20 months, the country has been placed under a so-called “State of Emergency”. This legal device was first dreamed up in 1955, during the French state’s attempt to crush the anti-colonial Algerian Revolution.
60 years later it was rolled out again, in November 2015, in the aftermath of terrorist attacks in Paris. Since then, it has been renewed no fewer than five times, using various excuses, and is currently due to expire in November 2017, two years after it was introduced.
Right from the start it was used not just against Muslim communities, but against anti-capitalist dissidents. Initially this was against activists organising around the COP 21 Summit in Paris – homes and social centres were raided and activists placed under house arrest, without charges, until the summit was over.
The authorities also shamelessly used these “anti-terrorist” powers to combat the massive wave of revolt against neoliberal labour laws imposed by the previous “Socialist” Party regime.
Recent elections have brought in a new administration under President Emmanuel Macron. Presented as a “centrist” by the global media (see Acorn 34), he is in fact a hardcore neoliberal, determined to destroy the social structures which remain in France.
With trade unions and anti-capitalism still strong in France, Macron knows that he is going to face tough resistance in the months ahead.
Luc Rouban, a political scientist at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, has described the political situation in France as “potentially explosive” and said that “opposition is likely to express itself outside parliament.”
It is in this context that Macron is planning not to lift the State of Emergency, in the absence of any new terror attacks, but to incorporate it into French law!
This plan is already attracting wide concern from those committed to basic freedoms. The draconian and permanent new powers would allow central authorities to:
Ban people and vehicles from certain areas at certain times.
Create “zones of protection” or “security zones” to which the state can control entry.
Ban from any district a person considered to be in some way obstructing the actions of the authorities.
Order the temporary closure of any halls, bars or venues.
Ban any meeting considered to be liable to provoke disorder.
Make unconvicted “suspects” wear electronic tags.
Raid suspects’ homes at any time of day or night.
Use military courts instead of the usual ones.
Search any vehicle without the need for a warrant.
Activists are gearing up to resist this alarming move, as well as the onslaught of neoliberalism it is intended to help impose.
Declares a leaflet currently in circulation: “We refuse to see our fundamental rights reduced to nothing. We refuse to bow down to the police-state politics of a dictatorship!”
They are building for a “massive” day of mobilisation on Saturday September 16, in cities across France. Watch this space!
Fracking remains the front line of environmental resistance in the UK, with courageous nature-protectors digging in their heels in a bid to see off this unprecedented threat to the countryside.
The frack free activists at Leith Hill, near Dorking in Surrey, featured in Acorn 29, put up a spirited resistance when bailiffs moved in to evict them at the summer solstice, June 21.
A wooden fortress and tunnel network meant that they were able to hold out for two days, as the representatives of the “law” cleared the way for the desecration of England’s land and water by the profit-hungry oil industry.
Even the mercenary in charge of evicting the protectors expressed a certain admiration for their efforts. Peter Faulding, CEO of SGI, told local media: “When we went on to the site we knew there was one tunnel already but we had no idea how complex their system was, it was a real shock to be honest. It was a completed rat run and the way they had dug them was really impressive. They had built in sections where they could lock themselves on to things and really hem themselves in”.
Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for the South of England, said: “The people at these protection camps are defenders of the earth and they deserve medals”.
While Europa may have, disgracefully, got permission for exploratory drilling in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the camp may have been demolished, the fight obviously goes on and more and more people are becoming aware of what is happening.
Not far from Leith Hill, at Broadford Bridge near Billingshurst (see Acorn 2), UK Oil and Gas is pushing ahead with its drilling plans in the face of local opposition and lock-on blockades. It is now claiming to have found oil.
Placing Broadford Bridge in a broader context, an excellent article by journalist Kathryn McWhirter, published in the Brighton Argus, asks Sussex residents if they really want to see their countryside turned into a massive oil field.
She writes: “Are we prepared to see the countryside we love industrialised for the sake of a small, short-term reduction in our balance of payment deficit, and profits for the few?”
People are “sleepwalking into an oilfield”, she warns, adding that if the oil industry and their Tory friends get their way “there will be wells across the Weald, with West Sussex the prime target”.
Meanwhile, in Lancashire, there are persistent rumours that the drill will soon be arriving at Preston New Road near Blackpool.
Six opponents of the Cuadrilla’s shale gas site took part in a lock-on protest outside equipment supplier, A Plant, on June 19. Then they locked-on at the site itself on Monday June 26.
And throughout July there will be “Rolling Resistance” to Cuadrilla, with mass actions every Friday, starting on July 7 with a “Not Here Not Anywhere” demo at Preston New Road – see the Reclaim the Power website for full details.
Over in Yorkshire on Saturday and Sunday July 7 and 8 there is a Frack Free Community Weekend at the Kirby Misperton Protection Camp.
Some good news on the fracking front came in the unlikely guise of the Queen’s Speech, which made no mention of the Tories’ manifesto threat to make fracking even harder to stop.
Campaign group Frack Free United said: “This is a good day for communities and local democracy. Yes, nothing has really changed and we will have to continue the fight to protect communities from being turned into fracking gas fields, but make no mistake, this is a tipping point.
“The industry will only flourish with government support and the Conservative party U-turn on the manifesto pledge is a real shot in the arm for the campaign, providing even more energy into our campaign for the battles ahead.”
And more good news came from the accounts of fracking parent company, Cuadrilla Resources Holdings Ltd, which showed a loss of $11.6m for the 12 months to the end of December 2016.
And who is to blame for this? Writing in the annual accounts, chief executive Francis Egan complained about “irresponsible and intimidating behaviour” by protesters
Some might suggest that “irresponsible and intimidating behaviour” just about sums up the entire fracking industry, which is why people with a social and environmental conscience are determined to stop it in its toxic tracks.
A new book by Paul Cudenec, The Green One, has been published by Winter Oak Press. It explores how the awareness of our belonging to nature has always been present in human thought and culture. Today this vital spirit, which the author personifies as The Green One, is inspiring global resistance to industrial capitalism.
I am The Green One, although I would maybe better be named The Green Many. Green is the colour of eternal youth, of rebirth, of nature springing back into life after the death-sleep of winter.
I am Pachamama, I am Isis, I am Yemoja. I am Jack in the Green, I am Tammuz, I am Khidr.
I am regeneration. I am the right way of living. Sometimes I am revolution.
I have taken up the mighty sledgehammers of the Luddites. The Virgins are escaping from the churches and heading for the woods. The May Queens are running riot in the streets. Joan of Arc is burning patriarchy at the stake.
The pylons are tumbling. The motorways are crumbling. The pipelines are fracturing.
I am your future.
The Green One is coming! The Green One is coming!
Below is an extract from The Green One. For more extracts go here.
When will the fields come back?
“When will the fields come back and the grass for my children?” – Lord Dunsany, ‘Nature and Time’, Fifty-One Tales
Every time somebody tries to stop a copse being hacked down or a meadow being concreted over, they are me.
Whenever people come together to protect a river, and those beings that live in and around it, from the callous brutality of a dam, they are me.
Each and every person who says “no” to fracking, to pipelines, to power lines, to coal mines, to waste tips, to GM crops or to arms factories is saying “yes” to me and to my presence within them.
When “something” stirs deep within you and sends you out to fight against a new road, a new shopping mall, a new airport or a new power station, then that “something” is me.
If you ever have the feeling that the world you know is insane and risks destroying everything that you value, then you should know that this feeling is me.
And when that feeling becomes an opinion, an argument, a theory or a philosophy, it is me in yet another guise.
Sometimes that feeling takes a secondary form. It might be a theoretical hunch, an ideological sensitivity to the way that even philosophies of resistance can be recuperated by that which they supposedly oppose.
But that energy is still me, only now I am obliged to go to work on the thankless task of clearing all the philosophical tangle and debris that has been blocking your path.
I blossom in the human heart but the human heart needs to let me in. I have to become the opening-up before I can become the filling-in and the acting-out.
To lose something precious is bad enough, but what if you have forgotten that it was precious? Or that you ever had it in the first place? Why would you search for something you do not value? How will you find something that you do not believe was ever there?
Your fields and your green grass will not come back until your love calls out to them.
Anger is mounting on the streets of London, provoking memories of the wave of rioting which swept through the UK capital, and other cities, in the summer of 2011. The latest clashes took place in Forest Gate, on the night of Sunday June 25, and were provoked by the death of Edir Frederico Da Costa, thought to have been fatally beaten in police detention. There have also been furious scenes, amid feelings of deep injustice, in North Kensington after the Grenfell Tower blaze on June 14. Not only do people feel that working class communities are treated with contempt by the authorities, but they are also outraged by the way the death toll has been vastly underestimated: hundreds are believed to have died although officially the total is only 79.
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The increasingly fascistic nature of the US authorities is highlighted in a video interview from Unicorn Riot with a young woman who was arrested for protesting against Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20, J20. She, along with others, faces a jail term of 75 to 80 years! As she points out, the prosecutions are clearly political and are aimed at sending a message that dissent on the streets of the USA will no longer be tolerated. It’s not even a question of protesting “within the law” because laws have been deliberately drawn up as “traps” to make it easy to arrest dissidents, whatever they are doing. She says: “There’s no way to be an activist against oppressive systems and the State in which you are devoid of the risk of arrest.” State repression in the USA is also the theme of the latest 30-minute Trouble video from submedia.
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The Earth First! Summer Gathering 2017 will be held in Hertfordshire, England, from Wednesday August 9 to Monday August 14. It offers five days of skill-sharing for grassroots ecological direct action, where people can make links, share ideas, and get involved in the struggles against fracking, new roads and more. More info at http://earthfirstgathering.org
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From August 18 to 23, the Degrowth Summer School will take place at the Climate Camp in the Rhineland in Germany for the third time. This year’s main topics are “Degrowth perspectives on the future of the Rhenish lignite region”, “Psychology of change” and “Skills for System Change”.
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A shocking indictment of our modern civilization comes from data released by the NHS under a Freedom of Information request. This reveals that hundreds of children in England aged six and under are being prescribed anti-depressants. Anti-depressants at the start of their lives? What sort of insane world have these precious young human beings been born into?
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“The evidence suggests that the barbaric Manchester bombing, which killed 22 innocent people on May 22nd, is a case of blowback on British citizens arising at least partly from the overt and covert actions of British governments. The British state therefore has a serious case to answer.” This is the conclusion of an impressive in-depth investigation from Mark Curtis and Nafeez Ahmed which focuses on UK policies towards Libya and also touches on some of those related to Iraq and Syria.
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Acorn quote: “A great part of politics and law is always theatre; once a social system has become ‘set’, it does not need to be endorsed daily by exhibitions of power (although occasional punctuations of force will be made to define the limits of the system’s tolerance).”
The vile bomb attack in Manchester on May 22 has left a noxious smell of racism and fascism in the British political atmosphere in the election run-up.
Prime Minister Theresa May was very quick to ramp up the terror alert status to “critical” and send the army onto the streets in a bid to show just how strong and stable she is.
The gesture has a hint of coup d’état about it. Even pro-establishment Guardian journo Jonathan Freedland had to admit that troops being deployed in the middle of a general election campaign was “new and unsettling terrain for British democracy”.
As Gianfranco Sanguinetti noted, in his book On Terrorism and the State, regarding a similar situation in Italy in the late 1970s: “The reasoning currently in vogue is simple: if you love democracy, you have to defend it; to defend it you have to fight its enemies; to fight the enemies of democracy, no sacrifice is too great: the nobility of the end justifies every means; no democracy for the enemies of democracy! Something which was never essentially a democracy has now visibly ceased being so”.
But even worse was to come from media commentators who seem eager to pave the way to a grim authoritarian-capitalist future.
The right-wing Muslim-hating newspaper columnist Katie Hopkins sent a tweet in which she called for a “final solution” – this apparent call for genocide is apparently now the subject of a police enquiry.
Incidentally Hopkins, formerly of The Sun and now with Mail Online and LBC, was sponsored through her university education by the British Army’s Intelligence Corps.
Allison Pearson of The Daily Telegraph tweeted:”We need a State of Emergency as France has. We need internment of thousands of terror suspects now to protect our children.”
Meanwhile, Brendan O’Neill, editor of Spiked, struck an equally fascistic note when he tweeted: “A nation whose children are attacked must take action”, adding that “there is a strong justification for hate right now”.
O’Neill, and Spiked in general, has a proud history of amplifying authoritarian capitalist viewpoints under the cloak of a seemingly “radical” background – Spiked used to be called LM, or Living Marxism, and emerged from the very peculiar Revolutionary Communist Party.
As George Monbiot noted, O’Neill’s group has travelled “from the most distant fringes of the left to the extremities of the pro-corporate libertarian right” and it has never ceased being divisive and disruptive.
Explains Monbiot: “The organisation began in the late 1970s as a Trotskyist splinter called the Revolutionary Communist party. It immediately set out to destroy competing oppositionist movements. When nurses and cleaners marched for better pay, it picketed their demonstrations. It moved into the gay rights group Outrage and sought to shut it down. It tried to disrupt the miners’ strike, undermined the Anti-Nazi League and nearly destroyed the radical Polytechnic of North London. On at least two occasions RCP activists physically attacked members of opposing factions.”
O’Neill, like Spiked as a whole, has a particular love of industrial capitalism and can barely suppress his hatred for anyone who dares to put the health of the environment above the quest for endless economic growth.
Indeed, he has specifically complained that environment protest “contributes to the increasingly mainstream hostility to economic growth”.
And he described eco-activists opposed to the third runway at Heathrow as “plummy-voiced enemies of progress, those most entitled and eco-pompous of millennials”.
He has also condemned the”leftish set’s warped, myopic anti-Semitism” and “the way in which attacking Israel has become a means of being derogatory about Jews”.
Meanwhile, over in France, the new “centrist” president Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker, has announced that he wants to further extend the country’s State of Emergency, for the sixth time since the Paris attacks of November 2015, and bring in unspecified new “anti-terror” laws.
And “anti-terrorism” was said to be high on the agenda of the NATO summit in Brussels this week (see Acorninfo, below) where Macron was meeting with counterparts such as Theresa May and Donald Trump.
Rabid support for industrial capitalism, bitter opposition to environmentalism, anti-Muslim rhetoric, hysterical calls for “action” in response to terror attacks… Funny how so many of these people seem to be reading from the same centralised script…
One of the most insidious terms on the contemporary European political scene is “centrist”.
It is a label claimed by the new French president Emmanuel Macron as well as by former UK prime minister Tony Blair.
And it is insidious because it is used to define extreme neoliberal capitalism as a norm, as a default position, as a “common sense” non-ideology whose assumptions and aims can never be fundamentally challenged, except by “extremists”.
Centrists like to make great play of being beyond the “divisive” politics of left and right and yet are always happy to exploit those divisions to cement their own position.
Thus Macron’s supporters in France urged left-wingers to vote for him to keep out the extreme-right Front National and condemned defeated left-wing candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon for not ordering his supporters to vote for Macron in the second round.
Fellow “centrist” Blair saw Macron’s election as “a real victory for a more global approach to politics”, adding that he represented “a spirit which has echoes in every European country and in the western world in general”.
Blair’s supporters in the UK like to claim that the “populism” of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn is a mirror image of the right-wing populism of Donald Trump – the centrist line is always to lump all “extremists” together and suggest that if you go far enough round the “political spectrum” in either direction you will end up in the extremist hell of a kind of Nazi-Soviet pact, an anti-American, anti-semitic red-brown alliance that poses a chilling danger to strong and stable democratic values.
From the point of view of the centrist, which is of course well represented in the corporate media, anti-capitalism is peripheral and dangerous, always liable to open a Pandora’s box of hateful savagery.
This strategy is, unfortunately, very successful in terms of preventing the emergence of an anti-capitalist worldview that is capable of challenging reality as presented by the centrists.
Too many critics of neoliberalism allow themselves to be contained within the narrow political frameworks constructed by the dominant capitalist system.
Because centrists say that opposition to neoliberal globalisation amounts to a form of nationalism, some leftists are suckered into speaking in terms of “national” sovereignty as a bulwark against global Capital, rather than espousing a radical rejection both of the capitalist system and of the nation-states which maintain and enforce it.
Because centrists are always claiming that their policies are best for “growth” and for “creating jobs”, some leftists feel they have to justify their own policies using the same criteria.
Because centrists argue that the only alternative to imposing austerity is for states to borrow yet more money, some so-called left-wingers fall into their trap of proposing more debt to the bankers rather than the abolition of the whole capitalist money-system.
Because it seems obvious that, given the nature of elections and the shaping of public opinion, nobody can win an election on an authentically anti-capitalist platform, those leftists who engage on the electoral level of politics drop all real anti-capitalism from their rhetoric and programmes, and make do with reformism.
But this is a big mistake. They are not tailoring their politics to match the views of the public, but to match the views of the public as presented by the neoliberal centrists!
They are buying into the centrist line that the vast majority of the population are very happy with the way the world is organised and are firmly opposed to any fundamental change.
But what if that is simply not true? What if most people are sick to death of this hollow, money-fixated society and are longing for something else? What if most people are horribly aware of the dull limits of their daily grind, their daily consumption, and dream of a different existence?
What if most people are appalled by the spiralling destruction of the natural world, the police-state surveillance of every nook and cranny of their lives, the hypocritical warmongering propaganda churned out by the system’s media?
What if they are just waiting for someone to speak the truth, to say plainly that industrial society is a disaster, that the grey capitalist world of production, exploitation and consumption is a world not worth living in, that there are more important things than money, that things could be so very different, so much better, if only we could smash down the walls of the cells in which have been imprisoned?
Where is the passion? Where is the rage? Where is the desire? Where are the calls to insurrection, to revolution, capable of stirring up a powerful groundswell of contempt for the self-defined centrists and everything they represent?
It is not entirely accidental that there is a distinct lack of a coherent and vibrant ideological opposition to capitalism.
For many decades the agents of capitalist power, notably the CIA, have been engaged in what the Italian socialist Antonio Gramsci called a “war of ideas” to prevent any such movement arising.
Robin Ramsay of Lobster magazine, a specialist in secretive US interference in UK politics and culture, writes: “Much of the international political landscape of the postwar era in Britain consisted of US-funded or directed political projects – propaganda or psychological warfare projects they would now be called. And this was on top of the formal military-diplomatic-financial structure of NATO, the IMF, World Bank, Gatt, the UN etc.”
In Germany, there has long been suspicion that American influence might have been behind the emergence of the “antideutsch” strain of leftism which conveniently combined anti-fascism with a fervent admiration for American imperialism and Israeli repression of Palestinians.
And a fascinating recently-released CIA document sheds some light on American capitalist attitudes to the “French Theory” philosophical movement which gave birth to postmodernism, postfeminism, postanarchism and that whole pompous school of pseudo-radical academic thinking which delights in pouring cold water on all notions of overturning capitalist hegemony and creating the other world for which we yearn.
The document, written in 1985, radiates with American self-congratulation that the anti-capitalist ideas which had been so powerful in France in 1968 had now been replaced by a philosophy that was friendly to US corporate and military interests.
It declares: “There is a new climate of intellectual opinion in France – a spirit of anti-Marxism and anti-Sovietism that will make it difficult for anyone to mobilize significant intellectual opposition to US policies.
“Nor will French intellectuals be likely to lend their weight, as they did before, to other West European colleagues who have become hostile to the United States on broad issues like disarmament.”
This shift in attitudes, it reports with evident delight, had been “weakening the traditional anti-Americanism of the leftist intellectuals and allowing American culture and even political and economic policies to find new vogue”.
The CIA reveal themselves to be very keen on “New Philosopher” Bernard-Henri Lévy, known as BHL in France, whose position of power at the Grasset publishing house was crucial in spreading the US-friendly ideology he was promoting.
They also single out for ideological praise “the influential structuralist school associated with Claude Levi-Strauss, Foucault, and others”.
Of vital importance for the CIA is the destruction of an intellectual climate critical of capitalism and the imposition of a US-style money-orientated culture. They report gleefully: “There is no gainsaying that French youth, who once joined every new intellectual fad, now think of careers in science or business”.
The US agents note the rise of “a new wave of genuinely pro-American sentiment, rooted in the vogue of American popular culture, in respect for the American economic vitality of the 1980s, and in admiration for the new image of self-confidence that the United States now projects in the world.”
In a perceptive article on the implications of the CIA document, US philosopher and writer Gabriel Rockhill notes that it “should come as no surprise to those familiar with the CIA’s longstanding and ongoing investment in a global cultural war, including support for its most avant-garde forms”.
He notes that the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), which was headquartered in Paris and later discovered to be a CIA front organization during the cultural Cold War, was among the most important patrons in world history, supporting an incredible range of artistic and intellectual activities.
It had offices in 35 countries, published dozens of prestige magazines, was involved in the book industry, organized high-profile international conferences and art exhibits, coordinated performances and concerts, and contributed ample funding to various cultural awards and fellowships, as well as to front organizations like the Farfield Foundation.
Rockhill states: “The intelligence agency understands culture and theory to be crucial weapons in the overall arsenal it deploys to perpetuate US interests around the world.”
Former Marxists are particularly useful in channelling their propaganda as they provide “the perfect model for constructing deceptive narratives that amalgamate purported personal political growth with the progressive march of time, as if both individual life and history were simply a matter of ‘growing up’ and recognizing that profound egalitarian social transformation is a thing of the—personal and historical—past.”
Rockhill adds: “This patronizing, omniscient defeatism not only serves to discredit new movements, particularly those driven by the youth, but it also mischaracterizes the relative successes of counter-revolutionary repression as the natural progress of history.”
He correctly identifies the key aim of the CIA’s overall strategy to dismantle the cultural left in Europe and elsewhere as not being to abolish it entirely, which wasn’t regarded as possible, but instead “to move leftist culture away from resolute anti-capitalist and transformative politics toward center-left reformist positions that are less overtly critical of US foreign and domestic policies”.
There we have it. It’s the centre again. Indeed, the CIA report itself predicts that New Left intellectuals will weigh in heavily in supporting “moderate Socialists who are trying to create a broadbased center-left alliance”.
And the important point that Rockhill is making is that the CIA’s pro-capitalist contamination goes much deeper than mere party politics and into the heart of the contemporary ways of thinking that are considered by many self-defined radicals to be central to their “alternative” view of the world.
He says: “The CIA’s reading of French theory should give us pause to reconsider the radical chic veneer that has accompanied much of its Anglophone reception.
“According to a stagist conception of progressive history (which is usually blind to its implicit teleology), the work of figures like Foucault, Derrida and other cutting-edge French theorists is often intuitively affiliated with a form of profound and sophisticated critique that presumably far surpasses anything found in the socialist, Marxist or anarchist traditions.”
But the apparent sophistication of the postmodern position is simply intellectual bait in the CIA trap into which large sections of the so-called “left” have fallen.
As Rockhill writes: “According to the spy agency itself, post-Marxist French theory directly contributed to the CIA’s cultural program of coaxing the left toward the right, while discrediting anti-imperialism and anti-capitalism, thereby creating an intellectual environment in which their imperial projects could be pursued unhindered by serious critical scrutiny from the intelligentsia.”
Of course, the one thing the CIA report does not do is to spell out the US agency’s clandestine role in bringing about this cultural shift away from genuine anti-capitalism and towards pro-imperialist postleftism, whether in France, Germany, the UK or elsewhere.
But then, they don’t really have to. Some of us are still perfectly capable of reading between the lines…
4. Enemy of the system – the US campaign against Julian Assange
The shocking way that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been intimidated and smeared by the pro-American neoliberal system has been condemned by investigative journalist John Pilger.
He writes on his website: “For almost seven years, this epic miscarriage of justice has been drowned in a vituperative campaign against the WikiLeaks founder. There are few precedents.
“Deeply personal, petty, vicious and inhuman attacks have been aimed at a man not charged with any crime yet subjected to treatment not even meted out to a defendant facing extradition on a charge of murdering his wife.”
Prosecutors in Sweden have now announced that they are suspending their investigation of highly dubious rape allegations against Assange, who has been sheltering in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for five years to avoid extradition via Sweden to the USA.
“That the US threat to Assange was a threat to all journalists, and to the principle of free speech, was lost in the sordid and the ambitious. I would call it anti-journalism,” writes veteran anti-imperialist Pilger.
“Books were published, movie deals struck and media careers launched or kick-started on the back of WikiLeaks and an assumption that attacking Assange was fair game and he was too poor to sue. People have made money, often big money, while WikiLeaks has struggled to survive.
“The previous editor of the Guardian, Alan Rusbridger, called the WikiLeaks disclosures, which his newspaper published, ‘one of the greatest journalistic scoops of the last 30 years’. Yet no attempt was made to protect the Guardian’s provider and source. Instead, the ‘scoop’ became part of a marketing plan to raise the newspaper’s cover price.
“With not a penny going to Assange or to WikiLeaks, a hyped Guardian book led to a lucrative Hollywood movie. The book’s authors, Luke Harding and David Leigh, gratuitously described Assange as a ‘damaged personality’ and ‘callous’. They also revealed the secret password he had given the paper in confidence, which was designed to protect a digital file containing the US embassy cables. With Assange now trapped in the Ecuadorean embassy, Harding, standing among the police outside, gloated on his blog that ‘Scotland Yard may get the last laugh’.
“Journalism students might well study this period to understand that the most ubiquitous source of ‘fake news’ is from within a media self-ordained with a false respectability and an extension of the authority and power it claims to challenge but courts and protects.”
And the reason for the unprecedented and co-ordinated judicial-media attacks on Assange, whom some useful idiots on the fake “left” are also happy to condemn? It is simply, Pilger points out, that “WikiLeaks has exposed the way America dominates much of human affairs, including its epic crimes, especially in Afghanistan and Iraq: the wholesale, often homicidal killing of civilians”.
Challenging the criminal hegemony of the US-dominated global capitalist mafia remains the number one contemporary political heresy, it seems…
“All the power’s in the hands
Of people rich enough to buy it”
As The Clash once pointed out, the close relationship between money and power is at the corrupt heart of our capitalist society.
Money buys power and money is used by those in power to ensure that money and power remain permanently in the same elite hands at the expense of the rest of the population and of the natural world.
Take, for instance, the experience of residents living close to the UK’s largest opencast coalmine at Ffos-y-Fran near Merthyr Tydfil in Wales.
Since 2007, they have been enduring what can only be described as a nightmare, with horrific levels of air and noise pollution, with cancer clusters and disturbingly high rates of childhood asthma.
Resident Alyson Austin told the BBC her family’s life had been ruined by the coal dust: “I find it difficult to put the washing out on the clothes line or enjoy my garden. On hot days we can’t even open the windows.”
Like good citizens, the locals went through all the “usual channels”, including a public inquiry, petitions, protests, High Court legal action and even a report from the UN’s special rapporteur on hazardous substances and wastes.
But their complaints have been ignored and calls for an investigation into the health implications dismissed.
Five hundred locals attempted to take court action as a group, but their application was refused by the High Court “as they were deemed unable to afford it”.
Money always wins. The game is fixed. If you have no money then you have no say in a society where money, and greed for money, is king.
With the democratic process well and truly exhausted – and exposed as a sham – the only way forward was direct action.
Thus, in the early hours of 21 April 2017, under the banner of Earth First! and Reclaim the Power, a bunch of plucky rebels disrupted the mining operations.
At 5am, two of them blocked vehicle access to the mine by using D-locks and an armtube to lock onto the cattle grid at the entrance, while three others climbed down towards the bottom of the vast hole to lock onto the 300 tonne excavators used to extract coal (see video).
No coal mining took place all day.
The response from the system? Guilty of aggravated trespass, they were ordered to pay £10,000 compensation to Miller Argent, the company which is profiting from the misery of the people living alongside its environmentally disastrous mine.
A crowdfunding initiative has been launched to help the brave activists pay off this sum and we would urge people to help out if they can.
In the meantime, we are left with a useful reminder of the fact that the judicial system, in the UK as elsewhere, exists primarily to protect private property and private financial interests. It is designed not only to favour the rich, but to systematically punish the poor for their lack of wealth.
It’s a fraud, a scam, which is imposed on us using all the “authorised” violence of a state which has always existed to serve the interests not of ordinary people but of an arrogant ruling class which despises and exploits them in every way possible.
Ten thousand people took to the streets of Brussels on Wednesday May 24 to tell US president Donald Trump, and the imperialist warmongers of NATO, that they were not welcome in the Belgian capital. Said the No to NATO protest call-out: “NATO and its member states participate in illegal wars and military interventions, from Yugoslavia to Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria, the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. They contribute massively to international instability, fuelling the arms race and militarization. NATO remains committed to humanity’s biggest threat: nuclear weapons. NATO is the world’s most aggressive war machine. We must leave NATO and NATO must be dissolved.”
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“By 2050, the US and UK will have evolved into two-class societies where a small elite lives a good life and there is declining well-being for the majority.” That is the prediction from Jorgen Randers, an academic and author of 2052: A Global Forecast for the Next Forty Years. He adds: “Western nations are not going to collapse, but the smooth operation and friendly nature of Western society will disappear, because inequity is going to explode.” The process seems to be well underway…
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A victory has been notched up in the battle to save one of the few museums in the world to be dedicated to the life and works of an anarchist. As we reported in Acorn 33, the Ferdinand Domela Nieuwenhuis Museum at Heerenveen, in the Netherlands, celebrating one of the fathers of Dutch anarchism and libertarian socialism, was faced with closure and a petition was launched to keep it open. This has succeeded in persuading the municipal council of Heerenveen to lift the immediate threat to the museum.
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Opponents of plans to frack in North Yorkshire have welcomed confirmation by Barclays that it plans to sell its stake in Third Energy. Barclays owns 97% of Third Energy, which has permission to frack for shale gas at its KM8 well at Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire. Friends of the Earth described the decision as “a massive blow for the fracking industry” and urged them to keep up pressure on the bank.
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Anti-fascists from across the UK are mobilising to oppose the Muslim-hating English Defence League in Liverpool on Saturday June 3. Email London Anti-fascists at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line COACH2LIVERPOOL to travel from the South of England.
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Acorn quote: “Revolutionary movements do not spread by contamination but by resonance. Something that is constituted here resonates within the shock wave emitted by something constituted over there. A body that resonates does so according to its own mode. An insurrection is not like a plague or a forest fire – a linear process which spreads from place to place after an initial spark. It rather takes the shape of a music, whose focal points, though dispersed in time and space, succeed in imposing the rhythm of their own vibrations, always taking on more density. To the point that any return to normal is no longer desirable or even imaginable”.
An important focus of European anti-capitalist resistance is likely to come under brutal attack from the industrial system any day now, activists are warning.
Official papers authorising the start of work on a new Nantes airport in France were signed on September 14 and the ZAD (Zone à Défendre or Zone to Defend) is currently on full alert.
Mainstream media are reporting that the protesters are ready to resist any attempt at eviction of the zone at Notre-Dame-des-Landes (NDDL).
Since it was established in 2008, the ZAD at NDDL has become much more than an eco protest camp. It is a symbol of resistance, an autonomous zone where the cops stay away and people are able to experiment with different ways of living, growing their own food, baking their own bread, publishing their own newspaper, running their own radio station and, most recently, setting up their own library.
The French state, in cahoots with corporate developer Vinci, has long wanted to get rid of the ZAD. A previous attempt in 2012, involving 1,200 police and two helicopters, failed when the cleared areas were rapidly reoccupied.
Now, with the help of the extra police powers under the “state of emergency” introduced and prolonged as an “anti-terrorist” measure, and in the wake of six months of state violence against the social revolt around the Loi Travail across France, the authorities are set to try again.
There were strong rumours this week that a massive military-style operation to evict the ZAD could start as soon as September 26 and 27 – according to media reports, as many as 3,000 gendarmes (military-style police) could be involved.
One activist said: “All the hotels in the area are full, gendarmes are not allowed to take annual leave for the coming month, schools and churches around the ZAD are closing simultaneously on September 26.” There is talk of military equipment having been loaned to the gendarmes.
It also seems likely that the state will make use of tooled-up private security thugs, who were used against anti-nuclear protesters at Bure earlier in the year – making it easier to deny responsibility for injuries (or even deaths) among activists.
The ZAD has issued an urgent wishlist of materials and equipment needed to defend the zone, including palettes, tyres, paint, bikes, oil lamps, boots, socks, phones, radios and walkie-talkies.
The full French version is here and the English one here.
There is already a call-out for supporters to go to the ZAD for a pre-arranged solidarity mobilisation on Saturday October 8.
2. Indigenous peoples lead fight against fracking pipeline
Resistance is growing across the USA and beyond to a £3.8 billion thousand-mile pipeline being built to carry fracked oil – forcing the courts to order a temporary halt to part of the work.
As well as damaging vast areas of countryside, the Dakota Access Pipeline is also planned to cross the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and affect numerous other sites sacred to indigenous nations.
The struggle to halt the pipeline has brought together more than 100 indigenous groups and sparked a wave of solidarity actions on top of the feisty on-site resistance.
Like the ZAD in France, the conflict is a powerful illustration of the single most significant task facing the human species at this stage in our collective history – how to defy and destroy the industrial capitalist cancer which threatens all life on the planet.
Of course, where there is resistance there is always repression and in Dakota there have been dozens of arrests, a local state of emergency declared and the protest camp’s water supply has been controversially cut off.
Native American activist Winona LaDuke said: “So, a lot of people are coming here, united, a whole host of Native and non-Native people. And there are a lot of people that just do not believe that this should happen any more in this country, that are very willing to put themselves on the line, non-Indian people, you know, as well as tribal members, and they are here. And it is a beautiful place to defend.”
#NoDAPL Solidarity explain that, if completed, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), would run from the Bakken shale fields of North Dakota to Peoria, Illinois, passing underneath the Missouri River, the longest river on the North American continent.
They add: “Construction of the DAPL would engender a renewed fracking-frenzy in the Bakken shale region, as well as endanger a source of fresh water for the Standing Rock Sioux and 8 million people living downstream”.
But the fight has reached much further than the lands actually threatened by the pipeline. Say #NoDAPL Solidarity: “The DAPL is a massive project being organized by a shady group of the world’s largest fossil-fuel companies and banks. They have offices in cities around the world. Putting direct, nonviolent pressure on the corporations building and funding this project is critical for supporting frontline resistance to DAPL.”
An excellent new guide to the insidious threat of “green” capitalism has been published by Corporate Watch in the UK.
It is a worrying trend of our times that too many environmentalists are taken in by the lie that “alternative” energy sources and techno-fixes are all that are needed to save the world, rather than the destruction of the entire money-based industrial capitalist system that is choking it to death.
The authors of A-Z of Green Capitalism explain:”Capitalism thrives on crisis, and the multiple global environmental crises, including climate change and habitat and biodiversity loss, are creating new markets from which to generate profit. Those promoting green capitalism argue that if nature was valued correctly it will not only be protected, but even enhanced, along with the health of the economy and well-being in society.
“However, it is a contradiction in terms. Capitalism is fundamentally exploitative of people and the natural world, it is not and cannot be ‘green’. Green capitalism involves various institutions, including governments, corporations, think tanks, charities and NGOs, implementing policies, practices and processes to incorporate nature into capitalist market systems.
“It takes the same capitalist ideas and values that create environmental crises – i.e. continual economic growth, private property, profit and ‘free’ markets – and applies them to the natural world as a way to solve those crises. It serves to maintain capitalism’s dominance, both through finding new ways to generate profit, and as a way of protecting it from criticism of being environmentally destructive”.
The guide insists that the “values” of capitalism are simply incompatible with the interests of the living planet, whatever it may claim.
“Green capitalism functions as a way to deflect questions over the role of capitalism in creating the problems in the first place, or its capacity to deal with them.
“Nature includes all lifeforms, including other sentient beings. These other forms of life don’t exist just for the purpose of serving human needs. Nature has its own inherent value that cannot be expressed in financial or economic terms. All of this is ignored or even denied by the anthropocentric (human-centred) approach that capitalism and other exploitative systems are built on.
“This guide is intended as an introduction to the ideas surrounding green capitalism as well as the alternatives to it. We hope it will support attempts to resist the threat of green capitalism and create space for real ecological alternatives”.
Meanwhile, an article in September’s The Ecologist magazine explores why the idea of degrowth – which challenges the basic assumptions of the capitalist economy – is “gaining momentum”.
“At least one thing unites those activists and scholars: they all agree that the basic assumption of the necessity of economic growth is fatally flawed and in urgent need of correction simply because it undermines the conditions for humanity to thrive”.
“We will happily be having sex with robots soon, according to scientists,” announced a story in The Independent on September 7. It continued: “The ‘sexbots’ could be better than humans in bed and we could be looking at human-robot marriages by the year 2050, experts have claimed. Popularity of the machines has been rising as their realism continues to improve and soon could replace human companionship altogether.”
I don’t even know where to start with this! Perhaps with the use of the word “with”. You can’t have sex “with” robots because there is no mutuality involved. A robot is not a being, but a manufactured item, a machine giving the false impression of being alive.
But then maybe the word “sex” is even wronger. We don’t generally talk about “having sex” when there is only one person involved – I believe the usual term is “masturbation”. We’re not talking about “having sex with” anyone at all, but about the use (and, more importantly, the purchase!) of an advanced mechanical aid to wanking.
If they were honest about this, it wouldn’t be quite so bad. It’s the lying that I can’t stomach, and particularly the lie that there is no real difference between a living human being and a non-living consumer product.
It’s bad enough that in our messed-up society the “other” person is often reduced to the role of object by the self-obsessed modern individual. We see no other “subject” there, nobody real and sentient like Number One (supreme source of all reality and priority).
But this takes the whole thing a step further, to the point of assuming that we can no longer even tell the difference between appearance and reality, that we are so uninterested in the consciousness within another person (even one with whom we make love) that we would “happily” (there is a hint of irony here, surely? please!) accept a mere copy of another human being so long as this object fulfils a particular limited and rather basic physical role.
Let me be blunt about this: I don’t want to fuck a robot. If I do happen to have sex with anyone in the future I would very much like the experience to involve:
odours (other than burnt plastic)
sweat and the usual organic fluids
conversation before and after, if not during
a moment of intense near-spiritual connection with an amazing human being (preferably)
a human being (as a bare minimum)
So, Mister Technoballs, away with your smart-seductions and artificially augmented ardour. I’m not interested in downloading an orgasm. You can stuff your nano-nooky up your sterile sexbot. And, while you’re at it, kindly pull the whole of your industrial capitalist system out at the plug and let us get back to some real living and loving, as Mother Nature intended.
Thailand is slipping further into tyranny, with the military junta that seized power in 2014 strengthening its rule and effectively outlawing all criticism of the state and the corporate interests it represents.
On Tuesday September 20, Bangkok South Criminal Court announced a shock guilty verdict against British migrant rights defender Andy Hall in a criminal defamation and Computer Crimes Act charges case brought against him by Natural Fruit Company Ltd.
The Court found Andy Hall guilty of all charges, sentenced him to prison for four years and ordered him to pay 150 000 baht fine. His prison sentence was reduced by one year to three years and suspended for two years because of his record as a human rights defender. Andy will appeal the ruling.
The charges related to publication in 2013 of a report called Cheap Has a High Price by Finnwatch, a Finnish civil society organisation. The report outlined allegations of serious human rights violations at Natural Fruit’s pineapple processing plant in Prachuap Khiri Khan province in Thailand.
Said Sonja Vartiala, executive director of Finnwatch: ”We are shocked by today’s verdict. The report was authored and published by Finnwatch; we take full responsibility for it. Andy has been made a scapegoat in order to stifle other voices that speak out legitimately in support of migrant worker rights.
”This is a sad day for freedom of expression in Thailand. We fear that many other human rights defenders and victims of company abuse will be scared to silence by this ruling.”
At the same time, a new report from Privacy International examines the sinister rise of social media based surveillance in the South East Asian country, carried out potentially by people’s own networks of friends and family.
After the 2014 military coup, in which a military government led by General Prayut Chan-o-cha seized power and overthrew the administration of Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the army declared martial law, which was maintained for the following 10 months.
The declaration of martial law allowed the Thai authorities to take strict public order measures, including reportedly closely monitoring ‘delinquent’ behaviour such as eating sandwiches in the street or reading George Orwell’s books.
A new constitution was passed in August via a very dodgy referendum, of which no monitoring was allowed by the junta. Activists opposing the document were arrested, detained, and prosecuted in military courts, whilst voters who expressed their intention to vote against the draft were also arrested and prosecuted by the military regime.
Generally, the junta has been cracking down on anyone challenging the Thai establishment – political cases usually revolve around the use of Thailand’s lèse-majesté law (criticising the royal family), the Computer Crimes Act and the sedition law.
Says the Thai Political Prisoners website: “There are no accurate figure on how many have been charged under these draconian laws. 2010 estimates were that there have been more than 300 cases since the 2006 palace-military coup.
“The 2014 coup saw a massive spike in lèse-majesté cases. It is now calculated that the period since the May 2014 military coup has seen more lèse-majesté cases than ever before under any government in Thailand.
“Cases are seldom dropped outright, not least because prosecutors themselves worry about being charged with lèse-majesté for dropping a case”.
Privacy International reports that the NCPO [the Orwellian-named National Council for Peace and Order] is seeking ever-broadening powers. In March 2015 it issued orders giving its officers the power to: search premises, people, and vehicles; summon and arrest people; confiscate property; and request information without a warrant if they suspect illegal activities.
“The government has various ways of identifying the authors of what it deems to be illegal content on social media; in some cases, the government has arrested opponents in the streets during protests and forced them to hand over their social media passwords. The Thai police has also reportedly created a fake application to phish the data of users trying to log on to Facebook.
“According to online newspaper Prachatai, in May 2014, Police Major General Pisit Paoin, the head of a government-appointed working group responsible for censoring the internet, revealed his plan to spy on social media and chat apps. ‘We’ll send you a friend request. If you accept the friend request, we’ll see if anyone disseminates information which violates the NCPO orders. Be careful, we’ll soon be your friend,’ he said.
The report details instances of police posing as social media “friends” in order to lure activists into traps and jail sentences.
Can we expect similar controls to be deployed in “the West” in the near future, as the capitalist system is threatened by popular resistance?
As far as denouncing fellow citizens is concerned, we only need to think of the permanent “terrorist” scare and the reports of people being dragged off aircraft for speaking Arabic or generally appearing to be Muslim.
And France already has its own semi-permanent state of emergency – martial law is not just something that happens “elsewhere”.
There may well be a connection between international acceptance of the Thai dictatorship and the fact that Thailand’s U-Tapao Royal Thai Navy Airfield is currently the “only facility in Southeast Asia capable of supporting large-scale logistical operations”. Thailand has allowed the US to use U-Tapao to land and refuel after traveling across the Pacific Ocean on the way to US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Thailand is designated by the USA as a “major non-NATO ally”, meaning that although it is not technically in NATO, it is very much a close US ally with strategic working relationships with US Armed Forces – and other agencies.
Only this month, the Bangkok Post carried a revelation from a former CIA agent that the Thai king had secretly sent a 4,000-strong force of US-trained Thai soldiers known as Tahan Sua Pran to help the US in the Vietnam War.
The social war has begun again in France after a summer break – and looks set to intensify in the run-up to the presidential elections due next spring.
September 15 saw protests and strikes all over the country, with police violence immediately resuming the levels seen earlier in the year.
One trade unionist has lost the sight in one eye after being hit by a fragment of a grenade fired indiscriminately into the crowd in Paris by a CRS riot cop.
Although the protest movement was originally about the neoliberal labour reform which has now been pushed through parliament by the ruling so-called “Socialist” Party, it quickly became about much more and that energy is still very much alive.
The erosion of working conditions, the imposition of a US-style neoliberal economy, the militarisation of society, institutional racism, police violence, the draconian state of emergency and the whole misery of life in a capitalist slave-system have all contributed to a heated political climate.
The Lundi matin website has published a handy round-up of the action all across France, from which we have stolen a few highlights.
In Rennes, there were tense confrontations with police and the usual charges and tear gas. Activists were pleased to note that a significant number of trade unionists “crossed the line” which often divides protesters and went to the aid of radical masked-up comrades.
In Le Havre 12,000 protesters took to the streets, led by the dockers. People set fire to bins and blocked access to a business, Saverglass, in solidarity with trade unionists facing discrimination. Their aim was to “block the economy”.
In Rouen, protesters smashed the windows of the right-wing Les Républicains party, with the Socialist Party HQ also damaged. Shops and banks were also targeted and tear gas deployed by police.
In Dijon, the front of the union-organised march was taken over by a radical and youthful block which was in full voice, singing of the memory of the Paris Commune and their hatred of the police.
In Nantes, a 6,000-strong protest faced unprecedented police repression, with local activists heard remarking: “I’ve never seen anything like this before, you’d think we were in East Germany”.
There was apparently a great atmosphere in Lille, as well as numerous confrontations with police. “Something new happened”, according to the report, in that there was a joyful and determined unity to the protest and it was impossible to tell the “good” protesters from the naughty troublemakers.
The next few months in France are going to be very interesting.
* A three-part documentary video about this year’s ongoing uprising can be seen on the Taranis News website.
One day while he was sitting under an olive tree, contemplating the earth, the sky and the dimensions of the cosmos, there came to the wise Perantulo a man on horseback. His face was obscured by a richly decorated silk scarf and he was accompanied by a dozen mounted warriors, whose scimitars glistened in the sun.
The man was none other than the Sultan of Khaluvia, who had received word of the teaching, the healing and the presence of Perantulo and wanted to see for himself this legendary fakir. The Sultan dismounted and approached the sage, unwinding his scarf so that he could be fully seen. He was plainly of noble character and had the look of one endowed with both intelligence and mental strength, but Perantulo saw at once that there was much that separated him from Knowledge. Having ascertained that this was indeed the sage he had been seeking, and after whom he had been enquiring for many days, the Sultan looked silently into Perantulo’s eyes and Perantulo looked silently and unflinchingly back. This moment stretched out until it became uncomfortable for the Sultan’s warriors, who did not understand what was happening and longed for it to end. But none dared move so much as a muscle or utter so much as the softest of whispered sighs as the two men remained locked in mutual scrutiny.
Finally, the Sultan dropped to his knees and, with tears welling in his eyes, declared: “Never before, Perantulo, have I seen in the eyes of man or woman what I have just discovered in yours. I must confess that I have wondered these last days whether the rumours of your wisdom were not exaggerated by the loose tongues of gossiping embellishers, but now I know that their inaccuracy strayed in the opposite direction to that which I had feared to be the case. Your reputation does not do you justice, Perantulo, and I say this without having heard you utter one word or move one finger. I beseech you, O Holy Man, to show me how I can see what you see, know what you know, shine as you shine”.
There was a long pause. Perantulo remained so still that a small green lizard walked up one arm, across the back of his neck, and down the other.
And then he told the Sultan: “It is a fine thing, O Great Ruler, that you have come here and spoken thus. Your people are fortunate indeed to be led by a man of your sensibility. But it is no easy thing you seek. The path is long and steep and you would do well to bear in mind the fable of the traveller who feasts on his supplies in celebration at having reached the lofty summit of his destination only to realise, when the mists lift, that he has merely conquered the lowest of the foothills that come before the plain that leads to the sea across which lies the mountain he would ascend”.
“I know the path is long, kind sage. Fear not – the mist of impatience will not blind me on my journey,” spoke the Sultan.
Perantulo waited for another long moment – moments for him bore little relation to the moments of ordinary men. He was so still that a golden butterfly alighted on his upper lip and preened itself for a while before fluttering on its way.
“Very well,” said the old philosopher to the Sultan. “But you should know that the task ahead of you involves three stages. The first, which is quick and easy, is to express the Desire for True Knowledge. The second, which will be painful to you and to those who love you, is to rid yourself of all obstacles that can prevent the Torch of Eternal Truth from shining through you. This stage is dangerous for one whose commitment is not complete, for one who is not strong enough to bear the hatred of others or for one who is not supple enough inside to absorb the hurt. It is a dark voyage from which you may never emerge, O Sultan-most-Splendid”.
The Sultan, a pensive frown creasing his brow, drew a deep breath: “And the third stage, O Holy Perantulo?”
“The third stage,” replied the fakir, “can only be imagined when the first two stages have been completed”.
The Sultan nodded. “So be it,” he said. “I have understood”.
And then he sprang to his feet, turned to his bemused men, and roared: “Let you all stand witness, my warriors, that your master, the Sultan of Khaluvia, today expresses his unquenchable commitment to the Desire for True Knowledge, that from this moment forth his days among mankind will be devoted to no other cause and that nothing and nobody can stand in the way of his Quest. Now we will ride, ride, ride – back to our famous City of Alzorika, which will soon become famed not just for its wealth, its learning and its arts, but for the devotion of its 75th Sultan to the Glory of All Being!”
He leapt on to his horse, raised his sword in the air as a sign of his energy and determination, then span to face the sage, who was still seated under the tree.
“Perantulo!” he cried, the fire of zeal scorching from his eyes. “Perantulo! I have heard your words and I will hold them in my heart! I will return!”
Environmental activists blocked flights at London City Airport on September 6 in a Black Lives Matter protest highlighting the disproportionate impact of air pollution on black communities living near airports. Nine people launched a dawn action at the small airport used by rich businesspeople and managed to put up a tripod on the runway and lock themselves together.
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More than 24,000 inmates in at least 40 prisons from over two dozen states in the USA have been taking part in the national prison strike which began on September 9. Despite a virtual media blackout, it is clear that this is the biggest prison strike in US history, with inmates refusing to follow orders, failing to report for work and causing prisons to go on lockdown. The main focus of the strike is the modern-day slavery still legal in the prison system, in which businesses profit from free or very cheap forced labour. Said Azzura Crispino of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee: “Prisoners getting paid a wage at all for their labor is rare. The system is doing exactly what it’s designed to do: Extract as much money off the backs of prisoners as possible.” There are calls for international solidarity actions.
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In the face of ongoing violence in the Philippines – with a bombing in Davao City killing 14 people and the “war on drugs” seeing almost 2,000 people summarily executed – local anarchists are keeping up the struggle. On September 4, Food Not Bombs Baliuag protested against all the violence and war by providing free meal to people affected by poverty and hunger in the park of Baliuag, Bulacan. They have also staged a free market, sharing and giving away used clothes to those most in need.
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We have one year to close DSEI – that’s the message from anti-militarist campaigners 12 months ahead of the next arms fair in London’s Docklands. The big event, at which besuited individuals aim to make huge profits out of other people’s deaths, is due to be held from September 12 to 15 2017 at Excel London. Unless…
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The anarchist view of evolution, as being primarily about mutual aid and co-operation rather than competition and individualism, has been confirmed by recent research. Dr Benjamin Rubin, of Princeton University, said: “We originally set out to uncover the genetic basis of mutualistic behaviour in ants. So, we sequenced the genomes of three mutualistic species of plant-ants and four of their closely related, non-mutualistic relatives. We were surprised to learn that the mutualists actually had a higher rate of evolution across their genomes than the generalists.” Peter Kropotkin, anarchist scientist and author of the classic Mutual Aid, would not have been surprised, we imagine…
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Anarchy in a Cold War is a novel by Kurtis Sunday set in the West Berlin alternative-squatter-Punk scene during the latter part of the Cold War. The city, a focal point in the conflict between East and West, was a capitalist enclave smack in the middle of Communist East Germany. It was entirely surrounded by the Berlin Wall, complete with razor wire and machine gun posts. There is much that is familiar and much that is not. The Cold War is raging and the missiles are armed and waiting in their silos. If nuclear war breaks out there will be a four-minute warning. There is no internet and perhaps NO FUTURE. Reality? Sur-reality? Or hyper-reality?
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Acorn quote: “The life of the psyche is the life of mankind. Welling up from the depths of the unconscious, its springs gush forth from the root of the whole human race, since the individual is, biologically speaking, only a twig broken off from the mother and transplanted”. C.G. Jung, Symbols of Transformation
On other occasions, they are fissures in the fabric of the political system itself, in one of the many protective walls that it has built to hide the truth of its essential falsity.
This is what has been happening in the UK in recent weeks, with the post-referendum chaos and the push by the neoliberal establishment to regain control of the Labour Party and oust leader Jeremy Corbyn.
Of course, from an anti-capitalist and anarchist point of view, Corbyn’s brand of politics is still part of the overall system we oppose.
But what is important is that for the ruling elite even this vaguely socialist form of capitalism falls outside the range of possible positions it is prepared to tolerate, particularly as it is combined with a critical stance regarding NATO and with a support for Palestinian rights.
The establishment is thus prepared to use all the weapons at its disposal to dislodge Corbyn and prevent him from retaining leadership of the Labour Party.
Every small success for Corbyn and his friends means that his opponents have to up the ante and resort to methods they would rather not have used.
And the more of these methods they are forced to use, the more they necessarily reveal about themselves and about the agendas they serve.
Take, for instance, the revelation by Craig Murray (followed by further details in The Canary) that the anti-Corbyn “heckler” at Gay Pride was Tom Mauchline, a Blairite PR professional working for Portland Communications.
The way that the “news story” of the heckling was fabricated and served up by complicit media outlets such as The Guardian goes a long way to exposing the techniques behind the systematic corporate propaganda laughably known as “journalism”.
Some of the wheeler-dealers behind the scenes have been forced to show their faces in public as their efforts become more desperate – such as rich Labour Party donor Michael Foster, who has applied to the High Court to try and overturn the decision to put Corbyn on the leadership ballot paper.
Reported The Guardian: “Foster, a former showbiz agent who has given more than £400,000 to the party since 2010, came to prominence during the last Labour party conference, after he confronted Corbyn at a Labour Friends of Israel reception, angered the Labour leader had not mentioned the word ‘Israel’ in his address to the meeting. ‘Say the word “Israel”,’ he shouted at Corbyn, who is a long-standing pro-Palestinian campaigner.”
Foster’s approach was well illustrated by a 2015 report from The Independent on his bid to become an MP, which quoted an account from a rival candidate Loveday Jenkin, of the small Mebyon Kernow party. “Having got a laugh at hustings by mentioning Mr Foster’s £1.5m home in the poorest constituency in England, she claimed he had erupted in response, calling her ‘a cunt’ and threatening: ‘If you pick on me again, I will destroy you’.”
The blatantly right-wing agendas behind the scenes, the absurd and hysterical rhetoric (including the conflation of pro-Palestinian views with antisemitism) and the frantic rule-bending and gerrymandering of the Labour Party’s anti-Corbyn bureaucracy have opened many people’s eyes to what this organisation really amounts to.
And this is good news for all dissidents, as it pushes more people towards an understanding of how the system actually operates, of how its “democracy” is a lie and the political scene is carefully managed to prevent the slightest possibility of real change.
Look at this online comment, for example, following the suspension of the pro-Corbyn Brighton, Hove and District Labour Party by its own head office.
“The establishment don’t want real people to have any say in politics. Infiltrated steering committees which set the party rules and determine policy have always been the guarantee of the establishment that they will always maintain control. This should now be obvious to all.
“The panic we are seeing in the NEC is the establishment realising they have spooked the herd as they would say. In other words the people are waking up and the ruling class with their agents and place men in the PLP and NEC are getting caught out in the consciousness shift.
“They are petrified of losing power and having to face the consequences of their immoral and illegal actions. They are determined to stop Corbyn at all costs because they fear the situation snowballing beyond their control but it’s already too late… I believe we’re seeing the start of a revolution. There’s no turning back now.”
This healthy scepticism about the political establishment, combined with an awareness that the British secret state does indeed infiltrate political parties in order to keep control of them, is something that worries the elite.
The findings of the Chilcot Inquiry, although inevitably designed for damage limitation, were only as damning as they were because the public already knew that Blair had lied about Iraq, had ignored the people’s views and was working for US neocon interests.
The result of the Brexit referendum was not unrelated to this spiralling lack of confidence in those who set themselves up as “the authorities”.
David Cameron’s wriggling around his family’s tax affairs, as revealed in the Panama Papers, and the doom-mongering propagandistic tone adopted by the Remain campaign all fuelled a general distrust in the powers-that-be.
Members of the privileged political classes were shocked by the complete contempt in which many of us hold the establishment and everything it tells us. One “strategist” complained: “The public just said they lie and pull the wool over our eyes. I asked one woman to give me an example of these lies, and she said, ‘9/11’.”
It barely matters whether or not you think the distrust on specific issues is justified (the idea that pencils rather than pens were provided at the EU poll so that the Remain camp could later rub out the pro-Brexit crosses was maybe a little off-target!) when you understand the significance of the fact that a large part of the population no longer believes a word the authorities say!
The more pressure that is heaped on the power elite, the more they are forced to show their hand and reveal themselves and the more they have to resort to blatantly unfair and undemocratic methods to hold on to power, the more people will see through the lies behind their phoney “democracy”.
And the more the system’s media lackeys scream that we are all ignorant extremists, crazed conspiracy theorists and dangerous apologists for terrorism, the surer we can be that we have got them on the back foot, that their power is crumbling, that they are fast losing control.
As blogger Johnny Void argues: “What is now needed is escalation on all fronts. It’s time to move beyond marching or empty speeches, and to forge a struggle that makes the ruling class tremble. The EU, an institution that is neo-liberal to the core and an austerity machine, has been defeated in the UK.
“The architects of cut throat capitalism are in disarray. There will never be a bigger opportunity, the future is there for the taking and we have more power than we ever dreamed of.”
2. Panicking French state tries to build right-wing militia
Panic at the top of the French state is prompting a slide towards an openly fascistic form of control, with a constantly renewed “state of emergency” now extended until the end of January 2017 and an attempt to build a “patriotic” reserve force reminiscent of the pro-Nazi wartime militia or milice.
As we have previously reported in The Acorn, while the immediate justification for the draconian measures is always “terrorism”, whether at Charlie Hebdo, the Bataclan or Nice, the French state has no qualms about using them against internal political dissent.
Most of the 2,000 raids in the wake of the November attacks were of course on Muslim communities – shocking accounts emerged of sneering police taking sadistic delight in their state-sanctioned racist intimidation.
But the authorities also very quickly used the new powers to clamp down on protests around the COP21 summit in Paris, for instance, raiding the homes of anti-capitalist activists and placing them under “preventative” house arrest until the summit was over.
The French state’s attempts to conflate anti-capitalist resistance with terrorism have so far floundered – its long-running determination to prosecute the “Tarnac” rebels as so-called “terrorists” has now finally failed, for instance, with the prosecutors’ appeal against last year’s legal decision rejected.
And the easy exploitation of terrorist attacks to create a mood of “national unity” and rallying behind the government is no longer working – people are instead blaming their political leaders for failing to stop the killing, despite all their rhetoric and powers.
There is a growing wave of rebellion across the country, on a scale unseen for decades. While this has in recent months taken the form of a battle against the neoliberal Loi Travail, now finally being pushed through parliament using special measures that bypass the need for a vote, the root causes are much deeper.
This was very clear in the way that the movement against the Loi Travail quickly took on the shape of a movement against the state of emergency and the “anti-terrorist” politics of fear, against the perpetual lies and distortions of the corporate media used to demonise any real opposition to the corrupt elite and, importantly, against the state-authorised violence of the police and gendarmes against the population.
More fury broke out on Tuesday July 19 and Wednesday July 20 after a young black man, Adama Traoré, died in custody on his 24th birthday after being arrested in Val d’Oise, just north of Paris.
He was a fit and active young man and his family have no time for the spurious claim by gendarmes that he died of a “heart condition” (see this interview with his mother).
The violent way in which the cops dealt with friends of family gathered in the street is shown in this short video.
The shock and anger spread to the streets, with two nights of rioting. At least one police vehicle was torched (see this video).
Authorities said on the morning of Thursday July 21 that 9 people had been arrested for firearms offences, throwing Molotov cocktails police and trying to burn down the town hall at Beaumont.
On top of all this there is the ZAD, a free zone of rebellion set up in opposition not just to the threat of a new airport in the countryside north of Nantes, but also in defiance of the whole industrial capitalist system.
The French state and its corporate backers are itching to evict and crush this important symbol of resistance, but know it will not be taken without a massive battle involving tens or hundreds of thousands of supporters from across France and beyond (including the UK).
Perhaps the authorities intend deploying the right-wing militia promoted by interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve after the Nice massacre, using the same language of “national cohesion” and “French patriots” that was used by Nazi collaborators in their war on the French Resistance.
3.Black July: Berlin resists gentrification, eviction and the state
Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Berlin to oppose gentrification and support a left-wing squat.
Rioting broke out on July 9 as a call for a “Black July” of resistance prompted a feisty display of defiance.
In a statement published after the protest, activists declared: “We hate the cops in every way and the riots during the demonstration on Saturday bring us joy. We don’t only want to kick the state out of our street, but also want it out of our lives.“
94 Rigaer Strasse was attacked by police in June and partly evicted, but squatters have managed to stay put in part of the well-known and important alternative space in the German capital.
Squads of police have been laying siege to the building day and night, with helicopters circling overhead.
On Saturday July 9 at least 3,500 people took to the streets in the Friedrichshain district, formerly part of East Berlin – see this video.
As can be seen by the numbers on the march as captured by this video, this is not an example of an isolated activist campaign with no roots in the community.
Reports the BBC: “Many of the neighbours live in housing collectives and sympathise with the squatters, who see themselves as a left-wing alternative to gentrification and rising rents. During the protest, some neighbours beat spoons against pots in support of the squatters.”
The statement from Rigaer94 says (in part): “We are a political housing project consisting of a diversity of people, and a house with the best neighbours you could imagine. We are united by the will to fight against the violent conditions that the state is consistently trying to enforce (especially against us in the past few weeks).
“Our passion for freedom forces us into daily conflict with our surroundings, with institutions as well as with servants of the state, nazis, sexists and other assholes. Within this conflict we are also confronted by our own contradictions, but this should never hinder us from working on a revolutionary praxis and from creating, through autonomous struggles, space in which we can develop relations to other people.
“Since a final analysis of our ideas only makes sense once we have achieved our goals of freedom, self-determination and enrichment, for now, we can only say that the latest happenings are an early affirmation of this autonomous struggle.
“What the state views as a dangerzone, is an attempt to create a self-organized and resistant zone, where the people live together without institutionalized violence and without representation by politicians, managers or other institutions.
“Success is already apparent: mass politicization of new generations of rioters, skillsharing in the neighbourhood, opening-up of structures and the collectivization of resources, more and better communication between us and others, self-empowerment, international resonance and destroying feelings of powerlessness and fear of repression etc.
“With the knowledge of the unresolvable contradictions in our small nucleus of social-revolutionary struggle, we called for a Black July. The decentralized concepts and calls to send Berlin into chaos are an alternative to the struggle within the framework of cultural political norms.
“The informal organisation and free association of decentralized networks that create their own rules, has always a strength. Especially in times when the state seeks to eradicate its enemies. Looking at the elements of psychological terror of the siege by the police and at the warlike rhetoric of their leaders, we have come to the conclusion that they do want to break us.
“We hate the cops in every way and the riots during the demonstration on Saturday bring us joy. We don’t only want to kick the state out of our street, but also want it out of our lives. The last weeks have only strengthened our position.
“Soyons ingouvernables! Seien wir unregierbar! Let’s be ungovernable!”
Courageous Italian environmental campaigners are holding firm in their opposition to a horrendously destructive high-speed railway project, in the face of shocking state repression.
The NO TAV struggle against the proposed rail link between Lyons and Turin, which would completely ruin the Susa valley in the Alps, has been ongoing since the 1990s and has mobilised whole communities as well as prompting widespread solidarity.
In particular, the violence of the policing and the repressive attitude of the state has radicalised people who might otherwise have remained unaware of the full brutality of the industrial capitalist system.
In their latest assault on the campaign, the Italian authorities launched dawn raids on the homes of NO TAV supporters on June 21.
Various punishments were meted out on 23 people of all ages, all accused of taking part in a 5,000-strong unauthorised protest on June 28 2015, in the course of which a section of fencing around the construction site was pulled down.
Some were jailed and others put under house arrest. Several, however, have refused to comply with the restrictions on their liberty, among them Nicoletta, a 70-year-old retired classics teacher.
In an interview with the Constellations website, she described last year’s crunch protest as “a big day out for the people, with all age-groups forming a huge, colourful and joyful snake, which was interrupted at a certain point by unacceptable and insurmountable barriers, and poisoned by clouds of tear gas.
“I won’t disown a single step or action of that day, which was my right and duty of resistance.
“For this reason I reject any restrictive measures which have been or will be imposed on me: I refuse to submit by signing on daily at the police station, and I will not allow my life to be confined by house arrest and my home to be turned into a prison.
“I will not be my own jailor. I feel with me the motivation and collective force of the oppressed, those who have nothing to lose but their chains, and a whole world to win”.
Massive protests and road blockades continue in Mexico, a month after 12 people were killed and more than 100 injured when police attacked members of a teachers’ union in Oaxaca on June 19. The rebellion is not just about education but about general “structural reforms” being imposed in Mexico, as across the neoliberal world. Teachers in Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Michoacán, and Mexico City have held marches almost daily, set up permanent encampments in city centres, seized tollbooths in daily highway blockades, and even blocked trains. This video, Nochixtlan tierra de gente valiente, explains more about the struggle.
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Anti-nuclear protesters in eastern France have re-occupied woods at Bure targeted for radioactive waste burial. After a camp was evicted on July 7, determined activists gathered in Lorraine on Saturday July 16 and managed to re-establish the rural occupation. A local media report (which also includes a video) comments that the site will perhaps become “a new ZAD (Zone À Défendre)”.
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It’s a very strange thing, the world of “terrorism“… What are we to make, for example, of the claim by a Russian survivor of the Nice attack that it involved not one terrorist but two – one driving and the other shooting? That would certainly provide an explanation for the otherwise puzzling concentration of bullet holes on the (European) passenger side of the windscreen (see below). But why are no other witnesses apparently referring to this second attacker? Meanwhile, an interesting general insight from a policeman in Florida, USA. In an interview with the Vero Beach Press Journal, Sheriff Ken Mascara of Florida’s St Lucie County reveals that the FBI tried to trick Orlando gay club killer Omar Mateen into committing a terror plot in 2013 through the planting of an informant in his life. He said the FBI dispatched this mystery person to “lure Omar into some kind of act”.
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Countryside campaigners in Sussex, UK, are battling plans by a local council to sell off parts of the South Downs currently owned by the public. Eastbourne Borough Council wants to sell Black Robin Farm, Bullock Down Farm, Cornish Farm and Chalk Farm. The millions of pounds raised would be used for urban projects such as the “redevelopment” of the Devonshire Park complex. The South Downs Society and the Campaign to Protect Rural England are both opposing the plans.
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A No Borders Camp is to be held in the Ventimiglia area near the Italian-French frontier from August 5 to 10. Exact details will be released closer to the start, but the action is set to begin with a 9am meet-up on Friday August 5 on the French side at Tende (Vallée de la Roya) to protest against a road tunnel project threatening the local environment. “Stop the lorries and abolish the borders!” More information here.
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Acorn quote: “And now we arrive at a crucial question: Is the Outsider strong enough to create his own tradition, his own way of thought, and to make a whole civilization think the same way?” Colin Wilson, Religion and The Rebel
1. “Terrorists” exposed as working for British state
The British state’s direct involvement in terrorism has been exposed by an official investigation.
The 160-page report by Northern Ireland’s Police Ombudsman, released on June 9, looks into the murders of six Catholic men watching football in a bar at Loughinisland, Co. Down on 18 June 1994, for which nobody has ever been prosecuted.
Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire declared: “I have no hesitation in unambiguously determining that collusion is a significant feature of the Loughinisland murders.”
Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Charlie Flanagan, said the findings were “deeply disturbing”.
Irish opposition leader Mícheál Martin said the victims were simply watching Ireland playing Italy in the World Cup soccer competition when they were ruthlessly gunned down by loyalist killers.
“The fact that the police, who were entrusted with protecting the community, were embroiled in collusion with the death squad responsible for the massacre is sinister and disturbing,” the Fianna Fáil leader said.
He called on the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, to apologize for and retract a statement she made in a speech last February, where she said it wasn’t the police or the British Army who “pulled the triggers at Loughinisland.”
Villiers had said that “a pernicious counter-narrative” of the Troubles was emerging whereby responsibility for acts of terrorism was being shifted onto the security forces “through allegations of collusion, misuse of agents and informers or other forms of unlawful activity”.
Martin said her comments were “misleading and hurtful given the details of serious collusion that have now emerged”.
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said the Ombudsman’s report was “just the latest exposing the depth of collusion involving British state forces and unionist paramilitaries”.
Paddy McCreanor, nephew of victim Daniel McCreanor, said: “Collusion is no illusion and collusion happened. The truth has come out and that’s all we ever wanted.”
The families’ lawyer Niall Murphy said: “This report is one of the most damning expositions of state collusion in mass murder that has ever been published.”
The coy phrasing in The Guardian’s report on the Ombudsman’s investigation illustrates the way the truth about the British state’s relationship with terrorism continues to be hidden from the British public and dismissed as some kind of crazed “conspiracy theory”.
Journalist Ian Cobain writes: “Senior loyalist paramilitaries who were employed as police informers at the height of the Troubles smuggled an arsenal of weapons into Northern Ireland that were then used in at least 70 murders and attempted murders”.
“Employed as police informers“? Paramilitaries employed by the police are nothing other than state assets, terrorists working for the British authorities. It’s as simple as that.
Continuing to couch the truth in careful, indirect language, Cobain writes: “While Maguire’s report stresses that many in the police have ‘worked tirelessly’ to bring the Loughinisland killers to justice, its damning conclusions will be seized upon by those who condemned Villiers’ comments, and who argue that security force collusion with loyalist terrorism was a central feature of the conflict.”
He adds that many in Northern Ireland are “unable to agree about the true nature of the conflict – or even the language that should be used to describe it”.
We would suggest that the appropriate language would include words such as “collusion”, “state”, “terrorism”, “deceit”, “lies” and “hypocrisy”.
Anyone keen to understand the “true nature” of the “Troubles”, which saw 2,618 people killed and more than 33,000 injured, might also want to look more closely at:
* Freddie Scappaticci, alias Stakeknife, the British agent who infiltrated the IRA to run its internal security and ordered 40 people to be murdered as security risks – presumably the wrong ones.
* Brian Nelson, the British agent who became the intelligence chief of the loyalist Ulster Defence Association – performing a similar role on the other side of the deadly maze of mirrors.
* The Birmingham Six, Guildford Four, and the Maguire Seven – all people wrongly convicted of republican bombing atrocities. Or maybe we should put some inverted commas around “republican”, because if they’re not responsible, who knows who was really behind the outrages and why the British establishment was so keen to find someone to blame for them. Incidentally, the Birmingham bomb led to the 1974 Labour government passing the original Prevention of Terrorism Act.
* The Omagh bombing of August 15 1998, generally blamed on a republican splinter group. Suspicious minds have pointed to the fact that public horror at the attack, in which 29 people died, allowed Tony Blair’s government to rush through controversial “emergency” anti-terrorist legislation, in the form of the Criminal Justice (Terrorism and Conspiracy) Act 1998, less than a month later in September 1998. This allowed people to be convicted of belonging to a proscribed organisation merely on the say-so of a senior police officer, created an offence of conspiracy to commit offences abroad and generally prefigured more recent terrorist legislation. Helpfully, it included a clause giving “all crown agents immunity from prosecution under the legislation”.
* Constant suspicions of the involvement of the British state in sectarian killings, which still won’t go away, even though its focus switched suddenly to a new “war on terror” just as the “Troubles” were declared over. Questions have been asked about state involvement in the deaths of Rosemary Nelson, loyalist Billy “King Rat” Wright, catholic Robert Hamill and RUC officers Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan.
In 2012 Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to admit that the level of state collusion uncovered by a report into the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane was “shocking” – though the report predictably concluded there had been “no overarching state conspiracy”. No, of course not.
A massive and dramatic day of resistance to the neoliberal Loi Travail was staged in Paris and across France on Tuesday June 14, with scenes in the capital described by witnesses as like a “war zone”.
An estimated million people marched in Paris, with the back end of the protest still waiting at the start of the route when the front had arrived at the destination. 1.3 million were on the streets across France.
The Paris march was led by the biggest autonomous bloc that has been seen in the city for several decades, with a strong international anti-capitalist participation.
It was attacked repeatedly and brutally by police using all the militaristic weaponry at their disposal – not just the usual batons, tear gas and grenades but also two water cannon, used in Paris for the first time.
Protesters responded to the police attempts to split the march with much determination and hails of stones.
Near the Duroc metro station, scene of some of the fiercest fighting, windows of the France’s overseas territories ministry were broken and its walls covered with graffiti – it was renamed the Ministry of Colonies.
Other buildings, from banks and estate agents’ to Starbucks were also targeted.
There were said to have been 58 arrests. The authorities ridiculously claimed only 40 people were injured, of whom 29 were supposedly cops and only 11 protesters! In reality, hundreds of protesters were hurt, many seriously, according to activist website Paris Luttes.
Levels of police violence and the cops’ utter contempt for the welfare of injured protesters are well illustrated by this shocking video.
After the main march, protesters regrouped in the evening for further unauthorised protests, which were again attacked by cops – notably the fascistic plain-clothed thugs of the “Bac” (“Anti-criminal brigades”).
This was the biggest turn-out yet against the Loi Travail, but still the state refuses to change its neoliberal course (see below). Instead it is now threatening to ban future protests if there is no “guarantee” that property and people will not be threatened.
This is unlikely to deter the resistance and more days of action and strikes are already being planned. Watch this space and follow us on Twitter for updates.
The real agenda behind France’s hotly-contested new labour laws has been helpfully spelled out by the country’s leading right-wing rag.
Le Figaro dedicated its front page and a special inside section on June 1 to the Loi Travail and the massive social struggle against it.
And the coverage makes it quite clear that the hated reforms are being violently imposed on the French people at the behest of the global financial elite.
It quotes the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, as saying the labour laws are the “minimum” that other European states expect of France, pointing out that other states have successfully imposed even harsher neoliberal measures.
It is clear that the massive scale and determination of the rebellion has left France’s capitalists rattled. You can almost see the blue blood boiling between the lines in Le Figaro‘s reports and comment.
It condemns the “violence and absurdity” of the social struggle and “this France where people can attack a police car with a metal bar, where a backward-looking trade union with a Marxist ideology can halt the trains, the metro, the ports, the airports, the oil refineries; where repeated demonstrations can degenerate into pitched battles.”
Nowhere does Le Figaro show any concern for the future of the French people affected by the laws – instead it merely whines about the effect of the protests on the tourist trade and the Euro2016 football, the reputation of the country among the global financial elite and the reaction of the “investors” – the capitalist sharks who are hoping to profit from the increased exploitation of the French workforce.
“France has lost its attractivity,” it moans. “Worse, it is becoming a country that people leave, from which they emigrate. Foreign investors are running away and we have lost count of the number of its children, graduates or not, who have left it. In search of a job, of a less harsh tax system, of lower levels of bureaucracy, of an attractive entrepreneurial freedom. In short, in search of a country which faces towards the future”.
It adds that France has become a “country of the past”, stuck with “archaic” acquired rights for workers, “incapable of modernising itself” and “with neither future nor horizon”.
These repeated mentions of the word “future” illustrate one of the big lies of the capitalist system. Note that Le Figaro doesn’t talk about “a” particular future which it would like to see come about, but “the” future!
This has always been the deception behind the capitalist myth of “progress” – that the increase of industrial exploitation is in some way welded to the passing of time itself, rather than being a specific direction that society happens to have taken.
Taking any other path has always been to attempt to “return to the past” or to “turn the clock back”, rather than moving forward in time to a non-industrial future.
Now the same trick is being used to scrap what few rights the population have managed to accrue for themselves over the last 200 years of industrial capitalism.
By equating “the future” with increased capitalist exploitation, and by dismissing resistance to that exploitation as “absurd”, Le Figaro reveals a totalitarian mindset in which even the possibility of a different vision of tomorrow is denied.
When this totalitarian attitude is enforced with violent policing methods to crush dissent, the resulting society is plainly far from being the “democracy” that it laughably claims to be…
“I was born upon the prairie, where the wind blew free and there was nothing to break the light of the sun. I was born where there were no enclosures and where everything drew a free breath. I want to die there and not within walls”. These were the words of Parra-Wa-Samen (Ten Bears) of the Yamparika Comanches. For his people, as Dee Brown explains, “land came from the Great Spirit, was as endless as the sky and belonged to no man”.
Here, surely, is an unchanging truth. Land is the surface of the Earth, which is billions of years old. How can it be said to be “owned” by transient individuals of one particular species temporarily populating its surface? And yet the huge majority of human beings born today find themselves denied the natural right to live and breathe freely on the planet on which they are born – of whose living substance, indeed, they are part.
The shocking depth of this dispossession is difficult for us to fully understand, from our limited perspective inside the very pit of this reality. It is also hard for us to grasp how we have slipped to this low point and how we have stayed there for so long. It is not difficult to imagine, of course, that there once might have been greedy, violent men (perhaps women, too!) who wanted to grab land for their own selfish use and exclude others. But, first, there must have been the idea that, contrary to the oldest traditions, land was not simply part of nature but could “belong” to somebody in particular.
Before the greedy men could desire to own it for themselves, there must have been a novel conception of land as being “ownable”. How did that happen? And then, once they had made their move and claimed an area for themselves and their kin, why did everyone else, the majority after all, let them get away with it? How did their theft become permanent? Crucially, at what point was their theft no longer seen as theft? At what point did it appear to be right and proper – so right and proper, in fact, that any attempt to undo this original theft would itself be considered a crime?
Ultimately, we are talking here about the origins of authority, which cannot be separated from the idea of land – the abstract notion of authority backs up the possession of land and thus wealth, while the possession of wealth provides the physical resources to enforce that authority in its real incarnation. How did Authority (with a capital ‘A’), as a force in its own right, come to pervert human society in this way?
We will consider its metaphysical aspects later in these pages (Chapter 10), but for the meantime all we need to know is that somehow, tragically, the land thieves got away with it. Over the centuries, people forgot that the land once belonged to nobody – could belong to nobody – and accepted the twin lies that not only did it indeed belong to somebody, but also that the persons who “owned” the land did so fairly.
What do we know about the past? Mostly what we’ve read in books. How much should we trust this stuff? What if it was all make-believe? What if actual historic events have been jumbled in time and location, repeated as fact in several places, over centuries? How would we know?
There have been dissident scholars in the past, over several centuries, who have pointed out that kings of different countries – with different titles and names – were in fact the same person. There are scholars from the 19th century into contemporary times who believe that the stories we’re told in daily and Sunday schools have been so convoluted as to make more than 1000 years of history irrelevant; a fantasy presented as reality in order to indoctrinate people into submitting to lives of servitude.
To grasp these possibilities as anything more than paranoid conspiracy, I have to ask the reader to keep historic events in mind in a particular era, during which humanity was enslaved by ruthless, savage raiders from Eurasia, for the enrichment of their aristocracies. This time includes the seizure of the commons in England, the discovery of 4/5ths of the world by the Christian kingdoms, the obliteration of cultures and civilizations worldwide, and ends with the inquisitions, which wiped out generations of accumulated folk wisdom, libraries, and the living memories of people who had seen some of the other land’s actual cultures, prior to their destruction.
After all this had cleared the slate, so to speak, Christian monks began writing much of what we think of as recorded history. Many supposedly ancient documents do not survive today in any form older than this period. As mentioned above, entire libraries were burned over the years. And during the inquisitions in Europe, many books – a much rarer commodity in those times – were burned as well, oftentimes along with the owners and authors. Some fields of science, particularly related to medicine and healthcare, are only now recovering this knowledge in the West. Mostly by learning from the few folks traditions that have survived into modern times.
To further obfuscate what is presented as historic fact, the calendar system used by the West has been “adjusted” several times. There are many, many instances of astronomically aligned stone circles, all over the world, that still accurately depict the passage of time and the cycles of the seasons. This means that thousands of years ago, people could accurately track time, but hundreds of years ago, the calendar had to be “adjusted.” What went wrong? My first guess would be religion.
We few began as wanderers in this wasteland, this wasted land, this land laid waste. Going through the motions every day, our hands passing over the assembly line, the steering wheel or the keyboard almost without our conscious awareness, as if ghost limbs.
We tell – or are told – the same story again and again of how we come to be here, of how we have ‘progressed’ into this age that clings to us like cellophane. Yet what is it, this thought which flashes unbidden across our minds while we submit to the bosses orders, or when we pass the clearcut forest?
Where does it lead, this chain of feelings we could allow ourselves to follow, hooked on the tailwings of the swooping swallow, or that draws us to a mountain or seashore? Why is it that our fingers twitch, curl into fists, become ours once more, when the newscasts and adverts blare, when the landlord knocks, when police approach?
Who are they, those friends whose company seems incommensurable with the hollow commodities, the acquisition of which keeps us apart; those voices who dare to challenge these values and way of life; those who tear away at this suffocating skin which has been grafted onto ours, bringing their heretical dreams to life again and again as feral beauty, bombs and beating hearts?
How could it be, that those moments could stretch on and on, while restrictions and categories peel away to fall as so much compost for the conspiracy of dandelions blooming atwixt the cracks, from an Earth we have learned to embrace once more?
Gather your strength, the reply from our bones counsels. Your fight seems to have begun for anarchy, for wildness.
This text appears at the beginning of the latest issue of the green anarchist zine Return Fire.
The contents include an extract from the latest cover story of Italy’s eco-insurrectionary periodical Terra Selvaggia, on ‘The Advance of Urbanisation’ and the cracks opening in the concrete. Annie Archet tells a life-story of evading identity, in Portrait of the Invisible Woman in Front of Her Mirror. Also: The Intensification of Independence in Wallmapu, John Severino’s poignant reflections on a project within an indigenous Mapuche community; The ‘Wild’ as Will and Representation, about commodified and alienated approaches in the urgent need for land reconnection; and Sean Dunohoe’s polemic against the Close Supervision Centres within the British prison system.
The zine also takes a retrospective look at some Global Flash-Points of insurgent activity in the months following their last volume. To Create & Maintain Their Wealth and ‘Sensuality, Magic & Anarchist Violence address gendered and speciesist domination through reviews of Silvia Federici, Arthur Evans and Jason Hribal.
The website includes a quote from Joanna Macy on the struggle that lies ahead for those who care about the future of life on this planet.
Says the activist and writer:“Yes, it looks bleak. But you are still alive now. You are alive with all the others, in this present moment. And because the truth is speaking in the work, it unlocks the heart. And there’s such a feeling and experience of adventure. It’s like a trumpet call to a great adventure. In all great adventures there comes a time when the little band of heroes feels totally outnumbered and bleak, like Frodo in Lord of the Rings or Pilgrim in Pilgrim’s Progress. You learn to say ‘It looks bleak. Big deal, it looks bleak.”
Frome (Sat 18 June), Glastonbury Festival (Thu 23 June), Yeovil, nr Tinkers Bubble (Sun 26 June), Horncastle (Thu 30 June).
Zig Zag, Glastonbury (Fri 1 July), Steward Community Woodland (Sun 3 July), Totnes Transition Town Film Night (Tue 5 July), Landmatters, Devon (Wed 6 July), Embercombe, Devon (Sat 9 July), Buddhafield Festival (Mon 11 July), Feed Bristol (Sat 23 July).
Stroud (Mon 1 August), The Big Green Gathering (Tue 2 August), The Northern Green Gathering (Thu 11 August), Off-Grid One Planet Community Festival (Fri 12 August), Wirksworth, Derbyshire (Sat 20 August), Belper (Tue 23 August).
People are invited to set up a screening in their local community, and use it as an opportunity to bring people together – think skill sharing, talks and workshops during the day, perhaps bring-a-dish dinner, followed by a showing of the film and a community-led discussion/circle gathering in the evening.
First-hand accounts of struggles in Kurdistan feature in a new book by Eliza Egret and Tom Anderson. Struggles for Autonomy in Kurdistan, published by Corporate Watch, tells of the efforts to create a new society which are taking place in Bakur and Rojava – the parts of Kurdistan within the borders of Turkey and Syria. The setting up of local assemblies and co-operatives, as well as radical women’s and ecological movements, are rapidly gathering momentum in Kurdistan. The book gives a simple introduction to democratic confederalism, the idea that has inspired many of those involved in these movements. The book also compiles accounts from Kurdish people who are oppressed by the state of Turkey and profiles some of the companies that are complicit in their repression. The interviews give suggestions of how people outside of Kurdistan can act in solidarity. Buy the book or download it for free at https://corporatewatch.org/publications/2016/new-book-struggles-autonomy-kurdistan
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UK supporters of the ZAD protest camp at Notre-Dame-des-Landes near Nantes in France have now set up their own website at https://network23.org/ukzad/. They say: “We are an autonomous group helping organise UK solidarity with la Zad and to help resist if and when an eviction attempt is made. Initial plans are to arrange a trip to la Zad some time in the summer and to organise a rapid response for UK people to get to. Email ukzad[@]riseup.net or use the contact form on the site”.
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A District Judge has refused to allow the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to appeal against the acquittal of eight anti-arms trade activists who were charged with blockading the DSEI arms fair in London last September. The CPS application to appeal was refused on the basis it was ‘frivolous’ and ‘misconceived’. On April 15 2016, eight activists were acquitted on the basis that they were seeking to prevent greater crimes such as torture and the mass indiscriminate killing of civilians in places such as Yemen, Kurdistan, Palestine and Bahrain. See Acorn 24 and update.
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The key study that justifies the UK Government’s claim that fracking is a climate change ‘solution’ is based on serious scientific errors, says a new report in The Ecologist. Adds the article: “Not only has the Government failed to correct them, but it is now delaying the publication of a new official report that would reveal the truth – that fracking is considerably worse for the world’s climate than coal”.
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“A major political summit, one of the biggest in the geopolitical calendar, and pretty much the only mainstream journalists who show up are inside the conference, bound by the omertà of Bilderberg… Decades of making it difficult for the press to report on the summit has led to a profound reluctance on the part of the media to bother trying”. So writes Charlie Skelton in his informative series of articles on the 2016 Bildberg Conference in Germany, published on The Guardian‘s website. And it wasn’t just the media who didn’t show. Where were the thousands of anti-capitalist protesters outside, furious at this secretive gathering of politicians, bankers, arms dealers and business people? Ah, yes, of course, Bilderberg is just a “conspiracy theory“…
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An anarchist summer camp is being held in Austria this August. Organisers say its aim is to bring people together and strengthen cooperation within the left and anarchist movement across borders. They say: “Our goal is to build up a network for cooperation and action that lasts longer than the camp itself. You neither need to be part of a political scene nor know anything about theory to participate at the A-Camp. Everybody who identifies with emancipatory and anti-authoritarian ideas is invited”.
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Acorn quote: “Things cannot go well in England, nor ever will, until all goods are held in common, and until there will be neither serfs nor gentlemen, and we shall be equal”. John Ball, Speech during Peasants Revolt, 1381
Huge crowds on the streets all over the world, at least one protester killed and many more injured by cops – May Day 2016 was as dramatic as any, as we show below.
In a way, although the people, the tear gas and the police batons were all very real, the day is a symbolic annual incarnation of a battle that goes on for 24 hours a day, 52 weeks of the year.
This is the battle between us and them, between the exploited and the exploiters, the peasants and the squires, the workers and the bosses, the have-nots and the have-too-muches.
For them, any “rights” enjoyed by workers and the population as a whole are only ever provisional sops to keep us in a state of semi-contented complacency.
They would rather do away with them altogether and are constantly working at increasing their control and destroying our collective resistance.
They use the money they have stolen from our communal wealth to manipulate and control the means of public information, smearing or ignoring our struggles and denying all possible alternatives to their system.
They use that same money to employ people to spy on us, infiltrate our movements, divert our energies, pollute our ideologies, divide and rule.
And, of course, they use it to hire an army of tooled-up thugs to physically attack us when we venture on to the streets in a spirit of rebellion.
What can we do to stand up to these brutal levels of force, particularly as the repression is smoothly covered up and even glorified by the mercenary custodians of the public’s “reality”?
All we can do is fight, and keep on fighting – on every level, in every way we can, on every single day of the year and, above all, on the symbolic First of May.
This is what our comrades were doing in Istanbul when police attacked them with water cannons and tear gas. A man in his 50s was murdered by the Turkish state’s thugs – run over by a water cannon vehicle – and there were more than 200 arrests.
That is also what people were doing in Paris, where the May Day march formed part of the current struggle against business-friendly “reforms” to the Loi Travail (see Acorn 23 and this update).
Repression in France, under cover of the “anti-terrorist” state of emergency, is reaching frightening heights (see, for instance, this video of the violent eviction of Nuit Debout in Paris on April 28 ) and the First of May procession was duly attacked by CRS riot police, using huge amounts of tear gas, who tried to split it into two.
The mixed crowd, numbering up to 70,000, stuck together and at one point started chanting en masse “Nous sommes tous des casseurs” (“We are all vandals”) in defiance of the media-manufactured bogeyman of a “violent” minority of protesters spoiling everything for the law-abiding majority.
Ferocious levels of police violence, during the day and in the evening at Nuit Debout, were such that the Street Medic organisation later described the day as a “bloodbath”.
Tens of thousands also took to the streets of Seoul. Similar “reforms” to those being introduced in France are being imposed all over the world by the capitalist slave-masters and South Korea also faces a labour reform bill, pushed by President Park Geun-Hye and her conservative Saenuri Party, which will make it easier for companies to lay off workers.
In Manila, there was a massive protest against Philippines president Benigno S. Aquino III and US imperialism. Left-wing demonstrators fought with police who were protecting the American embassy (see video)
There were clashes in Hong Kong when more than 5,000 people demonstrated to demand laws on standard working hours and a universal pension scheme.
It kicked off in Seattle, USA, (see this corporate news video), where anti-capitalist protesters bearing a large banner that read “We are ungovernable” staged an unauthorised march through the city centre.
Police fired “blast balls” at the protesters, who responded with flares, bricks and Molotov cocktails.
Elsewhere, anarchists threw molotov cocktails through the windows of the State Savings Bank of Ukraine (see video) and protesters set off fireworks in front of the Presidential Office Building in Taipei, Taiwan, as a symbolic gesture to “declare war” on the government.
There were protests and parades all across the world, including Berlin and Geneva (below). In Málaga (Spanish state) the march included an animal rights bloc, while in London a May Day Fuck Parade was held in the evening (see video), with the partying going on until 3am.
2. Blocking the railway in Marseilles: a first-hand report
April 28 saw a big day of strikes and protests against the neoliberal Loi Travail “reforms” in France (see Acorn 23 and this update). Feisty protests and brutal police violence broke out all over the country – see, for instance, these videos from Paris and Rennes and this photo report from Nantes – while Nuit Debout public assemblies were held in hundreds of towns in the evening. We received this first-hand report from the protests in Marseilles.
This was “a historic day” for protest in Marseilles, according to one long-time local anarchist activist, and I’m not going to argue with that.
I will certainly never forget the moment when hundreds of us on a breakaway demo refused to retreat in the face of insane volleys of tear gas and grenades fired by the fascistic “BAC” plain clothes police.
A great cheer rose up as it became obvious that the police were outnumbered and overwhelmed and we were going to get through.
Two BAC cops fled for cover as bottles and other objects rained down on them and the crowd advanced. As they got into their car, it was surrounded by triumphant protesters, cracking the glass in the windows, before the state thugs sped off to safety.
The crowd surged down the road and through a gate leading to the railway sidings and on to the main railway line close to Marseilles St Charles station. Planks, tyres and other objects were dragged on to the rails and set on fire. 400 protesters were on the line. The infrastructure was well and truly blocked.
You could tell something was going to happen right from the start. The official meet-up for the demo was at the Vieux Port, but here there were only the uninspiring supporters of the CGT trade union, far too close to the ruling Socialist Party to be any sort of threat to the system.
Up the road and round the corner, positioned to be at the head of the march, was the real heart of the protest. This was a mainly youthful section – including many secondary school students. They came from diverse backgrounds and notably included a noisy group of football supporters from OM, Olympique Marseille.
There were chants against the bosses, against the PS, about revolution, as the march set off, in stop-start fashion, along Cours Lieutaud.
At the end of the road, the well-established protest route turns right into Castellane, which is supposed to mark the end of proceedings.
But today, people had other ideas and the head of the protest turned left instead, then formed up ready to head off in an unauthorised direction.
Attempts to persuade the massed ranks of the CGT to join in were not too successful – they preferred a symbolic turn to the right, as ordered by their stewards.
But, thanks partly to a looping protest that led out of the march and back in again, a significant number of protesters were welcomed into the breakaway project and it set off up Boulevard Baille, where the police had set up a blockade.
The tear gas canisters started raining down before the front of the protest was even 100 metres from the cops. Plain clothes BAC cops lurked on the pavements ready to grab anyone trying to escape the gas.
“Tout Marseille déteste la police!” went up the cry from the crowd – a local variation of the “Tout le monde déteste la police!” (Everybody hates the police!”) which has rapidly become the catchphrase of this uprising.
People advanced and retreated, kicking and throwing the tear gas capsules back towards the police. Sound grenades and rubber bullets were also fired and a trade unionist suffered a nasty chest injury as the police pushed the protest down to Castellane and out on to Rue de Rome
On the positive side, a well-aimed bottle hit one of the BAC thugs right in the face.
Somehow, the breakaway group kept together and 1,000 protesters now moved together back towards the city centre, taking side streets to avoid police blockades and the constant hail of tear gas.
The taking of the railway was certainly a triumph – although some sort of mass exit strategy would have been useful to prevent the inevitable dribbling away of protesters though holes in the railside fences as the cops advanced up the line, and the violent arrests of those remaining.
More than 50 people were arrested, many of them school students, and a solidarity campaign was set up to support them.
It is worth noting that this was very much on the agenda of the Nuit Debout gathering that attracted several hundred people back at the Vieux Port that evening. While these gatherings inevitably draw in a mixed crowd, the overall tone here was inseparable from the tone of the protest.
3.Lies and bail conditions to keep anarchists off the streets
Trumped-up criminal charges and draconian bail conditions are being used by the British state as a weapon against dissidents.
This is the insidious reality behind the “justice” system, as exposed in a new Corporate Watch interview with anarchist activist Pete Simpson.
Pete was prosecuted and remanded in prison for alleged “violent disorder” and “assault of police officers” after an occupation of HSBC bank, as part of the 2015 Mayday commemoration in Cardiff, Wales.
Pete and fellow activist Josh Howe were found not guilty by a jury in Cardiff in January 2016 after it became clear that the police were telling a pack of lies and it was in fact the cops who had acted violently.
He has no doubts about the political motivation for the prosecution, which put him out of circulation for months.
“They had presented evidence that we were giving out South Wales Anarchists leaflets. They made many references to it. The black flags that people had brought to the protest were also part of the evidence. They held up the flags in court, six or seven bundled together. They also asked me what I personally understood by the term ‘Anarchism’.
“The prosecutor had claimed in court that the protest was hijacked by an ‘anti-police agenda’ and had insisted that ‘we can’t have mob violence’ in the streets of Britain”, recalled Pete. “He asked the jury rhetorically. ‘is it likely that the police would lie about violence being used on them?'”
The pigs have a global reputation for telling porkies, and with the not-guilty verdict, the jury’s answer to this last question was a resounding “yes”!
Pete described what really happened on the day: “Two of the cops that were there were grabbing people and I saw one cop throwing three punches in a row whilst holding a person by the shoulder, punching their kidneys. The same cop grabbed another guy and threw him to the ground without supporting his fall.
“A police officer had Josh’s neck under his arm and Josh was saying that he couldn’t breathe. There was another cop also putting his weight on Josh.
“I reached out towards Josh. The police officer turned round and elbowed me in the face, throwing me up against the wall and strangling me.
“Straight after that, the other officer came over and hit me with a ‘knee-strike’ in the part of the leg just above the knee. It’s apparently something they are trained to do to make someone fall to the ground, but they grabbed both of my shoulders and threw me to the ground anyway, head first. Then bent me in the middle somehow. My forehead hit the ground. My leg was suddenly really injured”.
After Pete and Josh’s arrest in May 2015 they were remanded for several days in Cardiff prison. The judge only agreed to release them on the condition that they move away from their homes in Cardiff, sign regularly at a police station, keep to a strict curfew and wear a tag.
As Corporate Watch say, these conditions can only be described as political, aimed at restricting Pete and his co-defendant’s ability to be involved in political activism.
Bail conditions (i.e. conditions you are forced to comply with in order for the court to release you from prison or police custody) are only supposed to be used to prevent further ‘offending’ and stop people from absconding.
However, the use of draconian bail conditions against Pete and Josh, and others like them, amount to a punishment by the courts against people who have not been convicted of any crime.
Warn Corporate Watch: “Bail conditions are increasingly being used to prevent people from being involved in social movements that threaten capitalism and the state, particularly people involved in direct action networks”.
Pete said: “The bail conditions and tag made it hugely difficult for me. I effectively didn’t have a summer last year. I couldn’t go to any summer gatherings, activist camps or travel very far at all. I wanted to be supporting stuff all the time, all the stuff that I would normally be doing to try to change the system and fight for freedom.
“I was basically denied a social, and active, normal, life. I often thought about people going out in an evening and sometimes it was really difficult just to hear about it. I could never imagine just how controlling the state can be when people get to challenge its links to big business like we did that day.”
In a startling victory for direct action, eight anti-militarists walked free from court on April 15 after being prosecuted for trying to disrupt September’s Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair at London’s ExCel Centre last September (see Acorn 23).
And they did not get off on a technicality – District Judge Angus Hamilton accepted the defendants’ argument that they had tried to prevent greater crimes, such as genocide and torture, from occurring by blocking a road to stop tanks and other armoured vehicles from arriving at the exhibition centre.
Reported The Independent: “Witnesses described the role of the arms trade in facilitating the repressive Bahrani regime, in Saudi Arabia’s bombing campaign over Yemen, and with Turkey’s internal repression of its Kurdish population.
“The judge said the evidence of illegal weapons sales had been left unchallenged by the prosecution and that such sales would potentially break arms control laws.”
Said defendant Lisa Butler: “Of course, we were ecstatic with the result, but we feel that we should never have been on trial in the first place.
“At the beginning of the case, it was eight activists who were on trial, but by the end of the week, we had succeeded in bringing the corrupt activities of the arms trade to public attention. It felt as though we had successfully put Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, DSEI and the UK government on trial”.
Unfortunately, though, the court result does not mean that there is such a thing as “British justice” – as one of the defendants remarked, even a stopped watch is right twice a day.
Neither does it mean that arms dealers are generally now seen by our society to be the criminals they are. It is only if they infringe certain technical rules that they are considered to be in the wrong.
Profiting from the murder and maiming of other people is still perfectly legal and praiseworthy if it creates “jobs”, boosts “the economy” and keeps the blood-stained wheels of capitalism turning.
UPDATE: Just after this bulletin was published, it emerged that the British state intends to appeal against the non-guilty verdict and defend the arms trade. More information on this development can be found here.
5. Witch hunt: antisemitism smears are ideological warfare
A toxic new ideological weapon has been unleashed by the capitalist system against its opponents – the witch-hunt accusation of “antisemitism”.
This phenomenon has come to its head in the UK in recent weeks with fevered accusations of “antisemitism” within Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, which seems to be regarded as dangerously radical by those in high places in the UK and the USA.
Former London Mayor “Red Ken” Livingstone, suspended from the party, pointed out that this line of assault from Blairite right-wingers has been shaping up for a while now: “Frankly, there’s been an attempt to smear Jeremy Corbyn and his associates as antisemitic from the moment he became leader”.
There has been a related attack on Malia Bouattia, the new president of the UK’s National Union of Students, on the grounds of her anti-Zionism.
On one level these “shifty antisemitism wars” revolve around the legitimacy of support for Palestine and opposition to the brutal apartheid policies of an Israeli state which has long been a close ally of the UK, the USA, France and other Western states.
The success of the international BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) has prompted a “very coordinated and well-financed campaign led by Israel and its supporters aiming to criminalise political activism against Israeli occupation”.
In February, an Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson told the Financial Times: “We have stepped up our efforts directly and indirectly, dealing with friends of Israel in a variety of countries in which we have the BDS movement, fighting it with legal instruments.”
These “efforts” have been particularly blatant in France, where the authorities regard any call for the boycott of Israeli goods as a form of “racial hatred” .
In the UK, too, there has been a state attack on the BDS movement, with a new set of rules that will make it harder for local councils and other public bodies including universities to make ethical procurement or investment decisions. Secretary of State for Justice, Michael Gove, has absurdly claimed that the BDS movement is committing “a crime worse than apartheid”.
The ideological distortion behind this attitude was well conveyed in a nasty attack on Bouattia published by The Guardian.
The author, Hannah Weisfeld, concedes that not all UK Jews support the Israeli state and that many criticise it.
But she insists: “Zionism, at its core, is the belief in the right of the state of Israel to exist. Whether Bouattia likes it or not, connection to Israel is a key part of Jewish identity for an overwhelming majority of Jews in 21st-century Britain”.
Challenging Bouattia’s very reasonable insistence that “for me to take issue with Zionist politics, is not me taking issue with being Jewish”, Weisfeld complains that “she shows a deep lack of understanding of Jewish identity”.
Essentially, Weisfeld is claiming here that Zionism and Jewishness are the same thing – to challenge Zionism is therefore to threaten all Jewish people.
With the same line surfacing all over the place in recent months (for instance, in California), we are clearly witnessing a deliberate campaign to redefine criticism of the Israeli state and its policies as “antisemitism” and, therefore, as totally unacceptable and even criminal.
On another level, however, the current “antisemitism” row is not confined to issues around Israel, Zionism or Jewishness, but is cover for a new ideological assault on all opposition to the capitalist system – “extremism” as our rulers like to call it.
A telling pointer to this came in Paris in April, when right-wing Zionists falsely claimed that a group of anti-capitalist protesters had “attacked a synagogue”.
It is important to appreciate that the aim of this lie was not to discredit the pro-Palestine movement, as one might expect from pro-Israel groups, but to smear the left-wing anti-capitalist movement as a whole, using the “antisemitism” smear as a means to this end.
The same abuse of “antisemitism” accusations can be seen in an article in the Mail on Sunday on May 1, headed “Number of hate crimes against Jews soars as report says anti-semitism is at the ‘core’ of far-Left beliefs”.
The Mail’s story blatantly and outrageously tries to smear all anti-capitalists as racists or even Nazis – a remarkable stance for a notoriously right-wing newspaper group, which famously trumpeted its support for fascism in the 1930s.
At one point, without providing any context or information as to who was involved, the article declares: “In one shocking case, a mob shouting ‘Kill the Jews’ stormed a synagogue in Stamford Hill, North London, smashing windows and attacking worshippers”.
The implication is that this “mob” was probably left-wing, echoing the absurd right-wing Zionist claims regarding anti-capitalist protesters in Paris.
This anti-left element is very much in evidence behind the attacks on Corbyn. Indeed, the undisguised hatred of Corbyn and his supporters expressed by the UK media, very much including The Guardian, is not only, or even primarily, based on his support for the Palestinian cause.
Instead it relates to other policies which, while they may not seem very radical to many Acorn readers, still lie outside the imposed “consensus” of the US-dominated neoliberal capitalism that was safely represented by Blairite “New Labour”.
Explains a useful investigation from the Electronic Intifada website: “Although Labour’s membership has grown since Corbyn’s victory, he has been under constant attack from right-leaning politicians within the party. In an attempt to weaken his position, some of his critics have manufactured a ‘crisis’ about alleged anti-Semitism”.
It is important to understand that these smears are coming from a far-right elite of which far-right Zionism constitutes just one thread.
Zionism is, in itself, not inherently right-wing. Its origins were largely on the left and, while any form of nationalism is incompatible with anarchism and other forms of internationalism, Zionism was born from a struggle against antisemitism and was theoretically no more unacceptable than the anti-imperialist nationalisms of Ireland, India or Algeria, putting aside the crucial issue of Palestinian land.
The far-right form of Zionism which dominates today is, however, closely allied to the imperialism of the USA, UK, France, NATO and the whole Western capitalist system.
It no more represents or defends the interests of Jewish people than the British, French or American ruling elites represent the people of those countries. Indeed, much of the story behind the fake “antisemitism” scares is to frighten the Jewish diaspora into the hands of right-wing Zionism, in the same way that the fear of “terrorism” is designed to frighten the public into the “protective” arms of the capitalist state.
In Acorn 20, we explored the strong links between Islamophobic fear-mongering, far-right Zionism and shadowy CIA-backed pro-NATO organisations and individuals.
Disallowing any such analysis has always been part of the ideological war conducted by this extreme-right ruling system against its opponents.
A particularly successful approach has been the “conspiracy theory” smear. This starts from the reality that racists with a hatred for Jewish people often hide behind the term “Zionism” in order to depict a poisonous fantasy-world of “Jewish conspiracy”.
This has been turned around to imply that anyone who suggests there is any kind of behind-the-scenes co-ordination within the various elements of the ruling system is a “conspiracy theorist” and therefore somehow associated with antisemitism.
Note that it is not even necessary to include any mention of Zionism within this analysis of power – the very fact of invoking any kind of “conspiracy” involving the governments of capitalist countries is deemed evidence of a crazed and dangerous mindset that could easily lead to antisemitism, fascism and so on.
This same line is echoed by everyone from “radicals” attacking the “dangers” of conspiracy theories within their own circles to the likes of Prime Minister David Cameron with his threat to clamp down on the “ludicrous conspiracy theories of the extremists”.
This fear of “conspiracy theories” and of contamination by association with right-wing or antisemitic ideas, can be traced back to the 1960s, when US intellectual Richard Hofstadter wrote an essay called The Paranoid Style in American Politics.
As Robin Ramsay has written (see Acorn 20): “For ‘serious’ people – academics, journalists, politicians – large areas of political inquiry have been contaminated ever since by an association with conspiracy theories. Hofstadter’s essay appeared just when questions were being asked about the assassination of JFK and his essay helped to shore up the ‘lone assassin’ verdict offered by the Warren Commission”.
In 1999, this approach was further bolstered by the publication of a book called Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From. The blurb states: “To anyone who has ever heard a friend or relative say, ‘Don’t believe what you read in the papers’, Conspiracy offers a spellbinding survey – and a wakeup call”.
The author of this book was none other than Daniel Pipes, a far-right US propagandist, recently described by writer Nafeez Ahmed as a “well-known anti-Muslim hate-monger”, who sits on the presidium of the ultra-Zionist Jerusalem Summit alongside British Islamophobe Baroness Cox.
Adds Ahmed: “The summit’s advisory board includes other leading notorious neoconservative ideologues like Rachel Ehrenfeld, Meyrav Wurmser (wife of David Wurmser, Middle East advisor to former vice-president Dick Cheney), and Dennis Prager, among others”.
The truth is that the engineered fear of “conspiracy theories” (conspiraphobia, perhaps?) is part of a deliberate political strategy to delegitimise all analysis of, and opposition to, the capitalist military-industrial complex. The current controversy has to be seen within that larger ideological context.
By using the spectre of “antisemitism” as a stick with which to beat opponents of the dominant system, far-right Zionists are showing that they are in no way acting in the interests of the Jewish people they claim to represent.
Instead, they are using their well-being as a pawn in a political chess game which serves nobody’s interests but those of the capitalist ruling elite with which they are closely allied.
For when anybody voicing any criticism of Israel, or indeed the global capitalist system, is branded “antisemitic”, it becomes impossible to identify the real antisemites, the racist Jew-haters who must be sniggering with delight at the smokescreen being put up around their vile prejudices by those purporting to combat them.
Manufactured “terrorism” charges against anarchists in Belgium are due to be considered by a court in Brussels on May 10 2016. A report on Rabble website explains that the Belgian state has lumped together 150 different attacks on targets such as police stations, courts, banks, companies profiting from the prison system, building sites, mobile phone masts and cars belonging to diplomats, Eurocrats and NATO officials. By inventing a single fake “terrorist group” behind all of this, the prosecutors have contrived to reclassify a library as a place of recruitment, discussions as clandestine meetings, leaflets and newspapers as urban guerrilla manuals, demos and rallies as terrorism, affinity ties and self-organization as “a structured terrorist group”.
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“We cannot love your world. Your world is bad for us. We don’t like it. There are too many people. Too much noise. No peace. It smells bad”. These are the words of a woman of the Jarawa people, who have lived in peace off the coast of India for thousands of years but are now being treated as tourist attractions, or animals in a zoo, as the nightmare of industrial capitalist civilization engulfs them. Says a Jarawa man in a new documentary film: “We live really quietly in the forest, and we are happy. Here, there is everything we need. The trees are full of fruits, and the flowers are magnificent … We can find everything we need in the jungle.”
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An in-depth analysis on the influence of anarchist, environmental and feminist thinking in Kurdistan has been published online by Corporate Watch, ahead of a new book called Kurdish Struggles for Autonomy, due out this month. Says the report: “The movements for democratic confederalism in Rojava and Bakur are a place where anti-capitalist, feminist, anti-authoritarian and anti-state ideas are flourishing. They have the capability to transform the reality of society for millions of people. These changes are being made by people at a grassroots level, who are inspired by the ideas of the revolution, not by politicians or government institutions”.
* * *
Two UK diary dates. Earth First! has announced that its 2016 summer gathering will be held between August 17 and 22 in Northamptonshire. Further info to be released later. And the 2016 London Anarchist Bookfair will be held on Saturday October 29.
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Acorn quote: “It would be better to dump the whole stinking system and take the consequences”.
1. March 39 and counting… Nuit Debout and the new French uprising
The spirit of resistance has captured the imagination of a new generation in France, as youth-led opposition to neoliberal labour “reforms” has spiralled into full-on rejection of the whole capitalist system on the street and squares.
The situation took on a new dimension after the general strike and day of action on Thursday March 31. There was a call for people not to go home afterwards but to stay on the streets, beginning a wave of overnight “Nuit Debout” occupations that has spread from Paris across France and into the Iberian peninsular, Belgium and Germany.
The March 31 “moment” has also been symbolically extended by the renaming of the following days of the mobilisation as March 32, March 33 and so on.
On Tuesday March 36 (April 5 in the old pre-revolutionary calendar) there was another massive turn-out on the streets all over France, with increased police violence and defiant resistance.
In Paris police fired tear gas and charged the crowds of youngsters who countered with stones, glass bottles and eggs, chanting “police everywhere, justice nowhere!” and “everybody hates the police!”
Police arrested a staggering 130 schoolchildren and students on the day, leading to an evening protest outside a police station involving hundreds of people and more clashes.
It was a similar story in the Mediterranean city of Marseilles. A report on the Mars-info site said that if the initial demonstrations against the Loi Travail (labour law) had felt like the first breath of Spring, the events of March 36/April 5 showed that it had well and truly arrived.
Police charges were resisted, a motorway blocked, traffic thrown into chaos, the offices of the ruling Socialist Party redecorated. And the promise of so much more to come…
In Brittany, the main railway line was blocked in Rennes city centre, while banks, chain stores and the Socialist Party offices were targeted in Nantes.
Another hotspot was in Toulouse, where a wildcat protest and invasion of the city’s railway station was followed by an overnight Nuit Debout occupation of between 500 and 1,000 people.
When an authentic wave of revolt surges up from the collective heart of a population, there is little that can stand in its way.
Like the waters of a mighty flood, it either sweeps away everything in its path or finds a different course that takes it past all obstacles.
This is what we are seeing in France at the moment, where a rejection of the capitalist system has emerged from deep within society, most notably amongst the newest generation.
As we have previously reported in The Acorn, this phenomenon has been growing for some time now and has taken many forms.
The French state, frightened of a serious threat to its power, probably imagined it had found the solution in the wake of the November 13 terror attacks in Paris.
The draconian “state of emergency” has been combined with increased police brutality and the usual “anti-terrorist” media paranoia to try to create a climate in which revolt can have no place.
It worked to some extent with the COP21 protests in Paris, where the anticipated atmosphere of rebellion was significantly dampened.
But when the state started making noises about evicting the ZAD protest camp to make way for a new Nantes airport, the huge response of solidarity and defiance showed that the underlying rebel spirit remained intact.
And with the planned El Khomri labour laws, the “socialist” French government certainly overestimated its own power over the people.
While obedient trade unions failed to make much of a fuss about this serious attack on workers’ rights, others were outraged and the very youthful grassroots campaign emerged out of nowhere to oppose it.
The state has tried to crush it by the use of ugly police violence and general levels of repression which have been made possible by the “state of emergency”.
But even this has not worked. Indeed, the flood waters of revolt have merely swept up the tools of the state’s repression and used them as battering rams against its legitimacy.
As one statement from protesters explained: “What is being born here has little to do with the labour law. This law is just the tipping point. The one attack too many. Too arrogant, too blatant, too humiliating. The surveillance laws, the Macron law, the state of emergency, the stripping of nationality measures, the anti-terrorist laws, the penal reform project and the labour law all add up to a system. It’s one big project to bring the population to heel.
“Everyone knows that what makes a government retreat is not the number of people on the streets, but their determination. The only thing that will make a government retreat is the spectre of an uprising, the possibility of the loss of total control”.
Uncontrollability has proved a key element of the current revolt, with stewards from trade unions like the CGT being very obviously used by the authorities to try to hold back the energy of the youthful revolutionaries during protests.
One eye-witness to the March 31 protests in Marseilles described how the CGT stewards stood between the young protesters and the police with their backs to the cops, “showing clearly whose side they were on”.
As the protesters chanted “All Marseilles hates the police!”, the stewards were mocked and insulted, being called “collaborators” by the young crowd whose hatred for the system also embraces the false rebels of the comfortably conformist Left.
One recent article sees the strength of the wave of revolt as lying in the fact that it is not a “movement” that lends itself to being easily manipulated and recuperated by the status quo.
The behaviour of the union stewards and cops is a tell-tale sign that they are desperately trying to gain some kind of control over a phenomenon which is completely beyond their grasp.
The response of the French state to recent rising levels of dissent has been predictable. It has emerged that at the end of last year it placed a 5 million euro order for hundreds of thousands of rubber bullets and seems determined to try and crush opposition by force.
But resistance is spreading. There is an international call-out for a European Nuit Debout on Saturday April 9 – March 40. A new generation is at war with the system. The tyrants are running scared. Vive la révolution!
The aftermath of the Panama Papers revelations has been an amusing spectacle, as professional hypocrites from Reykjavik to Westminster wriggle and twist their way out of accusations of tax-dodging.
The #ResignCameron protest called for Downing Street at 12 noon on Saturday April 9 has got to be worth supporting, especially if it feeds in to the European-wide day of revolt.
But the details of the controversy are all a bit of a sideshow for anyone who has long realised that the whole system we live under, and the elite that controls it, are hopelessly and fundamentally corrupt.
The coming and going of individual politicians and political parties changes nothing. And there is no point in trying to reform the system by removing the parts which are corrupt, because the whole thing is rotten to the core. It is, in itself, nothing other than corruption!
To get rid of the corruption we have to get rid of the system. Not just the Tories and the offshore bankers, but the whole of the infrastructure behind them. We have to get rid of the “laws” they have invented to protect their corruption, the courts and judges that rubber-stamp their criminality with legitimacy. We have to get rid of the police forces, the armies and the prisons which impose their corrupt system on us with their “lawful” violence.
We have to get rid of the borders, the states, the flags, the property deeds, the capitalist-friendly ideologies – all the fakery and illusion they have invented in order to crush human potential and freedom.
This is not always an easy thing to say in a society where the slightest, most reformist, most Corbynesque challenge to the status quo is greeted with squawkings of outrage by the ruling clique.
Real change is so unthinkable to this dominant elite that it can’t even be mentioned at all without an accompanying deluge of derision and bile.
Anyone who dares imagine such a world, free from the sordid corruption of power, must either be a naive, uninformed, unworldly, head-in-the-clouds daydreamer or a dangerous, violent and fanatic extremist-terrorist. Or both!
“Things are the way they are and they can’t be changed,” they tell us. “No other world than our world can ever be possible, so just get used to it, work within it, construct your alternatives within the framework we have provided for you”.
This approach can lead nowhere except into an ever-worsening nightmare, as industrial capitalism reduces humanity to slavery and the living planet to a steaming heap of sterile and toxic chemical waste.
Everything has to go! There can be no illusions about this. We have to wipe out the whole stinking mess of a system in its entirety, with no qualms and no hesitations.
Only then will the soil be ready for a new society to emerge in which empowerment begins within each individual and works its way up through the myriad of social relationships that make up a community, growing an organic network of mutual aid and co-operation through which humankind can again become a vital and harmonious part of the living Earth and not a cancer in its flesh.
Instead of the corruption and ugly mess of industrial capitalism we will enjoy the natural harmony of anarchy.
Eight activists accused of disrupting one of the world’s largest arms fairs are due to go on trial in London from Monday April 11.
And their defence will include evidence from high-profile expert witnesses Andrew Feinstein, Sayed Ahmed and Oliver Sprague.
The campaigners are accused of having disrupted the set-up of the DSEI arms fair at the ExCel Centre in London last September by blocking the access roads to the site with their bodies, and by locking themselves to the gates.
Defendants, including Angela Ditchfield, Tom Franklin and Isa Al-Aali, were arrested on September 9 and 10 2015, accused of obstructing the entry of tanks and lorries by blocking the roads with their bodies.
Multiple defendants are accused of having blockaded the road during the Stop The Arms Fair main day of action on September 12; of which three are accused of blocking the East gate of the ExCel centre by locking themselves to the gate with arm tubes and two are accused of obstructing the West gate by D-locking their necks to the gate.
The DSEI (Defence & Security Equipment International) arms fair exists so that arms buyers and sellers can come together, network and make deals, and it takes place every two years in London’s Docklands. DSEI is jointly organised by Clarion Events and the UK Government. Buyers include countries involved in conflict and from human rights abusing regimes.
In September 2015 over 1500 exhibitors attended 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.
The expert witnesses have supplied written reports and will attend in person to give oral evidence for the defence concerning the nature of the DSEI arms fair:
Andrew Feinstein is a former ANC Member of Parliament in South Africa who resigned in 2001 in protest at the government’s refusal to allow an unfettered investigation into a £5bn arms deal that has been identified as the biggest corruption scandal in South Africa’s history. He went on to author The Shadow World, a book described by the Washington Post as “possibly the most complete account [of the global arms trade] ever written.” He is currently Executive Director of Corruption Watch UK, an NGO which researches the global arms trade and details and exposes weapons violations, bribery, corruption and other malfeasance.
Oliver Sprague is Programme Director of Arms Control and Policing at Amnesty International UK. He has worked on technical aspects of UK arms export controls for over 20 years. Sprague gives regular oral and written evidence to the Parliamentary Select Committee working on arms export controls. He has given expert evidence on breaches of export control legislation at DSEI (and other defence exhibitions) on numerous occasions.
Sayed Ahmed is Director of Advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy (BIRD), a London-based NGO which seeks to improve human rights and accountability in Bahrain.
The defendants themselves will also seek to give personal testimony of their reasons for opposing the arms fair and the catalogue of oppressive regimes that shop there.
The defendants will be using the defence of necessity, arguing that their actions were justified since they were intended to prevent greater crimes including:
* The sale of weapons to internally repressive regimes including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia;
* The sale of weapons to countries imminently at war and overtly complicit in ongoing war crimes in Yemen, Kurdistan and Palestine;
* The sale of weapons to regimes that have been widely accused of arming ISIS; and
* The promotion for sale of weapons that are designed specifically for torture or banned under international law for their capabilities concerning the mass indiscriminate killing of civilians.
Defendant Tom Franklin, 57, of Clifton Without, York said: “It is intolerable that the government is supporting the sale of illegal weapons and weapons being used to kill ordinary people from the West Bank to Yemen and Sudan. ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing.’ So I had to try to prevent evil”.
In a joint public statement,the Defendants Campaign said: “We know that the tools of the type promoted for sale at DSEI will be used to reinforce apartheid, to surveil and brutalise communities from Brixton to Bahrain, and to perpetuate the border regime that kills thousands every year – as European states wage a war against the refugees they helped create.
“We know that weapons promoted at DSEI are used to incinerate whole families at the touch of a button in places from Palestine to Pakistan. We know that such weapons will continue to devastate landscapes and do permanent environmental damage across the globe. And that these weapons have been used in systematic forced evictions and ethnic cleansing; such as against the people of Kurdistan.
“And we know that weapons of the type promoted at DSEI will be used to torture and repress people based on their political views, faith, gender, or sexuality in places like Saudi Arabia. Sometimes the tools of oppression are literal – and they are for sale at DSEI arms fair.”
The week-long trial is listed to start on Monday April 11 2016 at Stratford Magistrates Court in London. The defendants will be represented in court by Kellys Solicitors of Brighton, Hodge Jones & Allen of London and Bindmans Solicitors of London.
A roundup of the week of direct action against DSEI:
4. The obliteration ofEuropean civilization via the subversion of the early Christian church by Roman emperors
by Rob los Ricos.
Having been involved with various US revolutionary organizations from the age of 12, Rob was arrested at a Reclaim the Streets festival in Eugene, Oregon, on June 18 1999. He was accused of throwing a rock at a cop, and was subsequently beaten by police. He was ultimately charged with rioting, first degree assault, and second degree assault and was given a nearly 8 year prison sentence.
This is the oldest symbol for the Christian faith. It may also be the oldest symbol of divine authority in what passes as “western” civilization.
There’s a lot more to say about this particular symbol, but for now let’s focus on its elegant simplicity. Because it was an upstart religion and illegal in the Roman empire, Christians needed a secretive way to identify one another. So, when wanting to inquire about someone’s belief, a Christian could draw half the symbol in the dirt with a finger. If the other party involved finished it, they recognized one another as part of the Church. If not, no harm done, the image quickly erased, easypeasy.
After the church was decriminalized, a new symbol was bestowed upon the Romanized religion, the cross.
The ruler of the eastern provinces of the Roman empire, Constantine, supposedly had a vision as he tossed and turned in his sleep, worried about an upcoming battle. Either that, or he was given a sign from heaven on his way there. More likely he just made this story up.
Regardless of the inspiration, Constantine was given a sign from some god or another – I’m not sure they ever specify – which he regarded as a license to kill. The two symbols combined in the banner above allegedly signify “by this sign, conquer.”
From this moment on, Christianity was not a religion of love, tolerance, sharing, and community. From this point on, Christianity was some unseen god’s holy scourge, come to rid the world of sinful non-believers with sword and fire. Ever notice how much Catholics have enjoyed burning people alive over the centuries?
The symbol of the cross eventually morphed into the more recognizable “+” form, then further transformed into… something awful.
This is the image of Jesus the ancient Churches like. It’s traumatizing. It’s meant to be.
The message sent by the authorities: “See that? There’s your god of love for you! He’s dead! If we killed your god, do you think we’ll have any mercy on you?”
Christians ever since have been very enthusiastic in slaughter, genocide, rape, and plunder. Rape, by the way, is not prohibited in the bible. There are a number of responsibilities spelt out for rapists in the old testament, including an obligation to marry the victim. I do not believe the victim is given a say in the matter.
And in the new testament, women are encouraged to be submissive to men.
Constantine undertook a war to eliminate the Zoroastrian religion. Their priests were known as Magi, and were mentioned with quite a lot of respect in the telling of Jesus’ birth.
The Romans killed every living Magi, and burned or otherwise destroyed their teachings.
I can’t help but think this was done because what the Magi taught was self-directed enlightenment and inner growth. What the Christian Church had decided on as its doctrine – in the council of Nicea Constantine sponsored ten years prior – was batshit crazy by comparison. Constantine was eliminating the competition.
He never made Christianity the official state religion (that would come later), even after his own “conversion.” As mentioned above, the conversion affected the Church more than vice-versa. The emperor has remade it in his own image.
Constantine’s end goal was likely to proclaim himself as the sun god, sol invictus, and Roman coinage, as well as works of art and architecture, portrayed him as Sol’s companion. He never did get around to announcing his own divinity. He did, however, make Sun day the official Christian day of rest and adulation.
Subsequent emperors burned the library of Antioch, and later banned teaching of science in the entire empire. People of other faiths were prohibited from being officers in the army, and a heretical Christian sect – the Manicheans – were exterminated for providing a sane, believable doctrine for Christians.
And just to rub a little salt in the wounds of a bleeding populace, pope Dumbass I outlawed public baths across the empire. Less than century later, unhygienic conditions contributed to a severe outbreak of bubonic plague.
The Church outlawed all forms of date-keeping, navigational charts and equipment, and any reference to the world as being spherical. No one believed the world was flat and the earth was the center of the universe. People started pretending to believe it when anyone saying otherwise was burned alive in public squares.
The Church also outlawed all non-Christian schools and ordered the obliteration of all knowledge kept at the great library of Alexandria – perhaps the greatest repository of human knowledge ever assembled in one place.
Not only did they destroy ancient scrolls, books, and other writings, they massacred everyone who had learned to read. Millions of tradesmen, artisans, and craftsmen were slaughtered.
A holocaust (burnt offering) of millions of people practicing another “heretical” – i.e. non-Roman – form of Christianity, the Donatists in North Africa, was ordered. An entire region depopulated. Every man, woman, and child.
The church decreed that every book not written by Christian hands be destroyed.
“There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity. It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn.”
–Augustine (354 C.E.- 430 C.E.)
War was declared against the cultures of Egypt and Greece. The ancient library of Athens was torn down, all the scribes and priests burned alive. Roman facades were put on ancient temples. Others were torn down and replaced with Christian churches.
Ireland was likewise invaded, but the mercenary Patrick was not up to the task and relented after merely massacring half-a-million people. He reported to Rome that the “serpents have been eliminated,” but he was really giving the Celts some time to hide their knowledge.
Just around 200 years from the time Constantine remade Christianity for his own bloody purposes, the population of the ancient European world had plummeted drastically, and human civilization set back thousands of years. Some estimates claim over 110,000,000 people had died due to conflict, sacrifice, disease, and hunger.
AND WE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT WAS LOST AS A RESULT. We can only guess, based on physical evidence left behind.
Fiction is not always the most obvious means through which to present a political and metaphysical philosophy – even a great novelist such as Leo Tolstoy turned his back on the genre in order to express himself directly to the public through essays.
So it was a little surprising to find that writer Paul Cudenec, who has so far confined himself to non-fiction works such as The Anarchist Revelation and Forms of Freedom, had decided to launch himself into the world of the novel.
Having read The Fakir of Florence (Sussex: Winter Oak, 2016), it becomes clear what attracted him to the idea. Rather than running away from his root message into the distraction of fiction, he has used the form of a novel to present this message in an imaginative and entertaining context.
On the surface, the book revolves around the story of a kind of anarchist mystic who turns up in Florence during the Renaissance, but there is much more to it than that.
Cudenec takes the opportunity to examine the corruption of art by money, the recuperation of opposing philosophies by the dominant system, the artificiality of modern life and thought, the nature of artistic self-expression, the subversive potential of godless spirituality, the need for individuals to accept existential responsibility and so on.
There is a real richness of intelligent reflection here, freed from the usual restraints of linear essay composition and allowed to flow and intertwine in a way that opens the mind of the reader to their own contemplation.
The book’s subtitle, “A Novel in Three Layers” is an important guide in two ways. Firstly, it makes it clear that the three distinct threads within the book are all part of one overall thing. Secondly, it confirms that this overall thing is a work of fiction.
I say this because the first “layer”, in which an English writer in Florence visits various sites in the Italian city, grumbles about tourism and offers layman’s commentaries on the history of art, reads initially like a non-fiction travel diary.
Likewise, the second layer, an account of the “fakir” in 15th century Florence, seems very much like historical analysis.
Only the third layer, a series of metaphorical tales from some fantastic and remote age of legends, is obviously a work of fiction.
This is all a deliberate piece of psychological trickery, as Cudenec makes clear, because it is in fact in the third layer that the greatest degree of “reality” can be found!
He has Perantulo, his most “unreal” character, declare: “Even if I were an invented character presented by a fictional story-teller in an account that was itself a mere fabrication-within-a-fabrication, my words could contain more truth than a lifetime of proven facts listed by someone whose solid physical existence was completely beyond dispute!”
This notion of an authentic inner “reality” or “truth” is key to Cudenec’s brand of anarchist metaphysics, which finds its inspiration in the likes of Gustav Landauer, Aldous Huxley and Herbert Read.
Ultimately it is an extension of the “realism” of neo-Platonists like Plotinus, in which the inner essence behind the superficial everyday world is considered more real than physical form. So when Cudenec undermines the fictional elements of his own creation, he is making the point that the form was always inherently false in any case.
The final sections of the novel have a compelling pace to them. There is a satisfying sense of convergence, as what appeared to diverse and unrelated elements prove to be nothing but different aspects of the one thing.
The story’s surprising conclusion can no more be explained away in rational terms than can the plot of films like Mulholland Drive or Donnie Darko, but it is perhaps best summed up (without giving anything away!) by the last few lines of the novel.
“And with that he doubled the speed of his whirling, tripled it, then multiplied it beyond the imagination of the sharpest mathematician. Perantulo whirled at such a speed that he caught up the passing of time itself, overtook it and then looped right round to approach it from behind, like the snake that devours its own tail. And then this hoop of time likewise began to spin, faster and ever faster, until it too had become a blur like the golden coin on the tabletop and until the vanity of its fake structure could no longer hide the all-embracing glory of its infinite and eternal fire”.
The Fakir of Florence, published by Winter Oak, can be ordered online here and will shortly be available from Active Distribution.
6. Money, sex and power: on a sham biography of Guy Debord
A new “biography” of the revolutionary thinker Guy Debord is nothing but a deliberate and dishonest attack on him and the ideas he stood for.
That is the damning verdict from writer Gianfranco Sanguinetti, who worked closely with Debord in the Situationist movement.
Donald Nicholson-Smith’s English translation of Sanguinetti’s piece on Jean-Marie Apostolidès’ “sham biography” Debord le Naufrageur (Debord the Wrecker), can be found here, with the French original here.
Sanguinetti makes it clear that Apostolidès’ book has to be seen in the context of a dominant culture that denies legitimacy to any thinking that strays outside its narrow and shallow confines.
He writes: “Nor is it only authentic opponents that must be destroyed, but also all those who may have existed earlier, whose memory and model have to be erased, demolished or besmirched.
“Every tendency to revolt and desire for change among younger generations must be thwarted and struck down, and all precedents for them and the very memory of those precedents smothered.
“Any conceivable emulation has to be forestalled. All Walter Benjamins driven to suicide. Lists of subversives drawn up. Genuine rebellions, along with genuine rebels, crushed once and for all, eliminated, denounced, smeared and pilloried in view of the absolute need to highlight only deliberately fabricated and fetishized adversaries”.
As far as Apostolidès’ book itself is concerned, Sanguinetti writes: “Let me say straight away that this work, as I shall show, apart from being a crashing bore, is in no way a biography. I spent a mere three hours with it, for after all there is no need to drink five hundred litres of wine to tell whether it is good or bad – or indeed to know that it is not wine at all (as, mutatis mutandis, is the case here).
“This is in no sense a biography of Guy Debord, but rather a long-winded piece of investigative journalism directed against Debord that offers only hostile ‘testimony’ and not a word about Debord’s work, about his art and his time, about his cinema, or about his courage in a position of virtual isolation. So the book is of strictly no value to historians. It is simply not a source. The author’s use of documentation is deeply dishonest, for he selects only what he deems inculpatory.
“The Society of the Spectacle is one of three books of the twentieth century, alongside George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, that are still vital to any understanding of the twenty-first.
“Apostolidès does not so much as mention the Strasbourg scandal and its crucial influence as a catalyst of May 1968. That struggle, its stakes and its seriousness, find no place in his book. The author also completely ignores the proliferation of Situationist theories and practice. Not a word, for instance, about what was perhaps the first work of street art or guerrilla art, our reinstallation of a statue of Charles Fourier in Place Clichy, Paris, in 1969, the original having been removed by the Nazis.
“Nothing, of course, of the magnificently successful creation of situations by the Yesmen; or by the Russian Voina group and Pussy Riot, who acknowledge their debt to Debord and the Situationists; nothing either of the Czech Stovoven group, or Banksy, or Kommunikationsguerilla, or the hacktivists, or a host of others too numerous to cite here who have put the Situationist legacy to practical use.
“Not to mention the wide-ranging influence exerted by the Situationists not only on all subsequent critical social theory but also on various kinds of détournement, class struggle and sabotage practised in factories and offices in Italy and elsewhere. This is the sense in which the Situationist International was an avant-garde. All of this, for the professor, is a complete blank. So much for scholarship.
“Since the author is kind enough never, even on a single page, to conceal his wish to denigrate – the sole point, I have to concede, upon which he is sincere and disciplined – he renders everything he mentions vulgar, which once again speaks volumes about himself: wherever you open the book, you encounter nothing but the profoundly sordid, mean-spirited, or obscene. Henry Miller put his finger exactly on this kind of mentality: ‘Obscenity exists only in the minds that discover it and charge others with it’.
“Were he called upon to discuss the Odyssey, Apostolidès would never get beyond the fleas on Ulysses’ head, because he can never perceive anything above his own level, and everything is therefore brought down to that level.
“Such individuals may teach at a prestigious university but they are incapable of producing a real, rigorous or in any way serious historical and critical analysis: all they can muster is either the aforesaid unctuous praise or spineless outrage.
“Professor Apostolidès will continue in any case to stand as a shining example of everything an honest and disciplined researcher should avoid – a concrete instance, if ever there was, and a caution to every student, of the disastrous mingling of those two forms of dishonesty, both on shameless exhibition in a police report poorly disguised as a work of historical scholarship.
“This book is hopelessly lacking in conviction, vigour, energy and freshness. It reads like work for hire, written on commission, a failed attempt to put Guy Debord and an entire movement in the stocks, something a world away from a faithful, legitimate and honest critique. Still, I draw comfort from its existence, for it signals that despite all their faults the Situationists continue to be a beacon of insubordination and a nightmare that still haunts the sleep of an era, a true successor to theirs, which cannot bear to have enemies that it has not manufactured for its own ends”.
7. Building an anarchist future – the Bristol call-out
The 8th Bristol Anarchist Bookfair is being held on Saturday April 30 2016, from 11am to 6pm, at Trinity Centre, Trinity Road, Bristol, BS2 0NW, with the The Radical History Zone just 5 minutes down the road at Hydra Bookshop. Here is the call-out from the bookfair collective:
Every year seems to bring more bad news. The poor have to pay for the mistakes of the rich through unjust schemes like the Bedroom Tax, while the sick lose their benefits to Work Capability Assessments and the like, leaving suicide rates on the up. Those who are sanctioned have all income stripped away, and governmental Workfare schemes push businesses to choose free labour over paid staff.
The cuts, as predicted, have hit the poorest hardest, with many having to choose between heating or food. Public services like care homes and day centres continue to vanish. The NHS is being ripped apart and sold off, taking away vital services, such as mental health, from those who need it most. Massive school budget cuts lead to unqualified teaching staff. Workers must work longer and harder for less, many with the uncertainty of zero-hour contracts and part-time work, with no hope of a pension.
At the same time farmers are given false hope through the murder of hundreds of endangered badgers. Global climate change has seen droughts lasting years in many countries, with the natural result of unsustainable export-crop agriculture leaving only harvest failure and starvation. Extreme weather patterns have increased flooding everywhere, and entire ecosystems move closer to the brink.
At the same time ‘our’ government’s policies only heighten the threat of climate change through fracking and airport expansion. The weapons trade, wars for oil, and extreme right-wing politics have stirred up conflict throughout the middle east and beyond, pushing ordinary people towards drastic decisions to try and save their lives.
There is hope though – people have been fighting back. Whether that is through strikes, direct action or the taking up of arms. Capitalism isn’t working. Reformism has failed. People want change.
But if capitalism collapsed tomorrow, we ask ourselves: Would we be ready?
As anarchists, we spend a lot of time fighting against oppressive structures, whether it be patriarchy, polluters, bosses, or weapons manufacturers. But we also discuss our hopes and dreams for a new, more equal world – that of anarchism. We have developed concepts around mutual aid, solidarity, co-operation, direct action, equality, and non-hierarchical organisation, but how do we put these into practice?
At this year’s Bristol Anarchist Bookfair, we want to create a safe space for people to explore these ideas, whether you are new to the concept or an old hand. How would we do health care, education or food production differently? How will we create a more equal society, so that people will feel safe and accepted whatever their sexual orientation, gender, ability, race or age?
What about oppressive behaviour; how will we hold people to account for their actions if we abolish prisons and the police? How will we distribute resources worldwide? Who will do the cleaning, road maintenance, sewage treatment and other ‘dirty work’?
If revolutions happen tomorrow we won’t have all the answers, and an anarchist society will not occur overnight – there will be ongoing change & adaptation. But the core principles of anarchism provide us with the building blocks for the future, and how to get there. Let’s be ready!
In love & solidarity – Bristol anarchist bookfair collective 2016
A reminder that Sheffield Anarchist Bookfair is being held on Saturday April 23 2016 from 10am to 6pm at Showroom Workstation, 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, South Yorkshire S1 2BX.
Anti-fascists held a successful mobilisation against extreme-right wingers in Dover on Saturday April 2. Describing the latest victory over the fash, antfascistnetwork.org reports: “They had very low numbers, and it took the combined protection of about 5 different police forces for them to march 500m through town, and even then we held them up for nearly 2 hours! All this plus the fact that we proudly marched an aid convoy to Calais through the centre of town right under their noses, and they couldn’t do jack about it”.
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The British state is using the pretext of a terrorist threat to flood the country with hundreds more armed police. The Independent reports that the 400 gun-wielding cops will be “stationed across the country poised to deal with a Paris-style terror attack” and that “the beefed-up network of armed police units is intended to complement military contingency plans already in place to deploy up to 10,000 troops in the event of a terror attack”. Far from being a question of the state “protecting the public” from terrorism, as the authorities like to claim, the whole story is about the state using the threat of terrorism to protect itself better from the public. The armed cops are being installed to deal not so much with a “Paris-style terror attack” as a “Paris-style revolt” – the whole charade being about frightening and beating the population into submission.
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An invaluable new resource for admirers of the great German-Jewish anarchist Gustav Landauer has gone online. The bibliography gathers primary as well as secondary literature, it mentions all known texts and talks by Landauer. There are already more than 1,600 items, including Landauer’s own writings as well as scholarly articles, monographs, book reviews, novels, and newspaper articles dedicated to Landauer or simply mentioning his name. It can be found here.
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“It’s necessary for all of us to make a journey back to enchantment. Enchantment is a facility that we are born with, but lose as we grow older,” writes author Sharon Blackie in an inspiring online article. “We forget that we live on an animate earth, and so find ourselves lonely and alienated. We no longer know how to belong. We find meaning only in ourselves and the gadgets we’ve created to amuse us, and tell ourselves and our children that this is a necessary part of becoming ‘grown-up’. So it is that we find ourselves inhabiting a Wasteland, and the journey out of this Wasteland is a journey towards re-enchantment”.
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The FBI is ordering high schools across the USA to report students who criticize government policies and “western corruption” as potential future terrorists, reports Infoshop News. The guidelines warn that “anarchist extremists” are in the same category as ISIS terrorists.
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A reminder of a May Day invitation in London, as featured in Acorn 22. Ancient energies and modern anger will be coming together in a the fourth anti-gentrification Fuck Parade from 6pm on Sunday May 1 2016 at One Commercial Street, London E1 7PT. “Dress code: smart casual, with masks“.
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Acorn quote:“It is as simple as that: we have lost touch with things, lost the physical experience that comes from a direct contact with organic processes of nature… We know it – instinctively we know it and walk like blind animals into a darker age than history has ever known”.