The Acorn is an info bulletin produced by our friends at Winter Oak, which we are sharing on this site. The Anarchist Action Network is not responsible for the content.
In this issue:
- Cracks in the system – Part I
- Cracks in the system – Part II
- Airport invasion targets drones firm
- Birthday bash in Bristol
- Anarchist Travelling Circuses
Before any empire collapses, cracks will start appearing in its structure – and the current global industrial capitalist system is no exception.
Sometimes these cracks take the form of space liberated from its monopolistic domination – such as the newly autonomous communities of Kurdistan, protest land occupations like the ZAD at Notre-Dame-des-Landes in France, or the areas of Chiapas in Mexico freed 20 years ago by the Zapatista movement.
On other occasions these cracks simply take the form of a growing sense of rebellion and a gut-instinct rejection of the system at grassroots level which breaks out on the streets.
It is the latter which seems to be happening in London at the moment, as the spate of feisty conflicts with police shows no signs of ending and catches the eye of overseas observers.
On Saturday October 31 there was rioting in Lambeth, south London, after cops tried to block hundreds of ravers from getting into the Scumoween halloween free party. Reports the Rabble website: “Riot cops attacked the party-goers with dogs and baton charges, and the people fought back with whatever weapons came to hand. According to the police, this included fireworks, gas canisters, and a ‘suspected petrol bomb’.” There is a video here.
Then just a few days later, on Wednesday November 4, a student protest for free education also “descended into violence” as the corporate media always put it – in other words, these young people were not prepared to be pushed around and attacked by the thugs of the Met Police. There is a video here.
The very next day, Thursday November 5, saw the London version of Anonymous’s global Million Mask March end in 50 arrests amidst what London’s police chief called “despicable violence” – from the protesters rather than his own officers, needless to say.
Protesters decided to ignore the “conditions” imposed on the march by the police and the sinister order to comply with the dictates of The Law that was projected on to the side of buildings by green lasers.
Groups broke through police cordons and somebody set fire to a police car carelessly left unattended near Parliament Square.
The frothing hysteria in the right-wing UK media which greeted the protest culminated on Saturday November 7 with a claim that “anarchists who wreaked havoc in central London this week are now plotting to kidnap senior police officers, strip them naked and humiliate them online”!
The sequence of angry protests, involving a new generation of discontented and alienated young people, echoes the situation five years ago after the right-wing Conservatives last won an election.
An autumn of revolt was followed the next summer, 2011, by massive rioting which shook the British establishment to the core and exposed the fact that it is completely incapable of putting down mass resistance if it erupts simultaneously across the capital and the UK.
The harsh repression following the uprisings may have temporarily quenched the flames of revolt, but the underlying fire is still burning. If past experience is anything to go by, London could be the place to be in the summer of 2016…
Paint-daubing, egg-throwing and shirt-ripping!
Growing revolt on UK streets
The second way in which the cracks are starting to appear in the industrial capitalist system is the increasing fascisisation of the UK and other “democratic” Western states.
At first glance, this might appear to be a trend heading in exactly the opposite direction to the hope held out by growing resistance.
But it’s important to realise it is very much a response to the threat of widespread disobedience and revolt that the system can see approaching on its political-weather radar.
Make no mistake, our rulers would much rather there was no need for the trappings of authoritarian society to keep the population in line. They would be very happy if the “soft” approach of constant propaganda and “bread and circuses” was enough to maintain control.
But this first line of defence has already been breached. The illusions with which they imprison us are crumbling. The spread of information via the internet means people can increasingly see through the clumsy official lies.
While part of the public can be controlled by the use of “terrorism” scares and xenophobic hysteria, this doesn’t work for everyone.
So the ruling elite is forced to roll out repressive attacks on our freedom – and in doing so it reveals still further its true nature, alienating yet more segments of the population.
The latest initiative by the UK, on top of ongoing efforts to completely abolish online privacy, is to create what is essentially a new thought-crime of “extremism” through which to persecute anyone who opposes the current capitalist system.
Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs) will restrict the movement and activities of people the Government claims are engaged in so-called “extreme activities” and will also apply to “venues and facilitators” that are deemed to help “extremists”.
Although it’s presented under the pretext of “counter-terrorism”, this repression is also aimed at “non-violent” dissent and at opponents whose only crime is to express the wrong opinions (otherwise known as “extremists who spread hate but do not break existing laws”).
Said campaigner Peter Tatchell: “Proponents of a range of unpopular, controversial and dissident views may be liable to an EDO, including opponents of western foreign policy, campaigners against nuclear weapons and energy, animal rights activists, people who express bigoted opinions and supporters of legitimate democratic liberation movements in the Western Sahara, Palestine, Syria, Balochistan and West Papua”.
The orders are an extension of the current policy of using “anti-terrorist” laws as a political tool to be used against anyone the states decides to target, such as volunteers travelling to Calais to help refugees.
This fascistic attitude is, of course, not limited to the UK and a recent court case in France shows how the notion of “hate crime”, which would normally apply to racists and fascists, can be twisted round at will.
The French high court upheld the criminal conviction of 12 political activists for “inciting hate or discrimination” because they had handed out leaflets calling for a boycott against Israel as a means of ending the decades-long military occupation of Palestine.
As Glenn Greenwald points out, calls for boycotts against other countries (such as unofficial “enemies”) are apparently still legal: “It requires sky-high levels of authoritarianism, even fascism, to abuse the criminal law to outlaw advocacy of policies and activism when it involves one country, and one country only”.
The Spanish state is even more openly repressive than its British and French counterparts – perhaps because levels of resistance are traditionally higher there and central control is in more imminent danger of collapse.
On Wednesday October 28, nine anarchists were arrested on suspicion of belonging to a “criminal organisation” in the form of a non-existent “network” invented by the police to justify their repression.
Then on Wednesday November 4 five more anarchists were arrested in Madrid, again accused of belonging to the imaginary network as well of damaging several banks.
As studies like Lesley J. Wood’s 2014 Crisis and Control: The Militarization of Protest Policing have set out, the ramping up of police-state repression against dissent (“extremism”!) is a global phenomenon being carried out by a global industrial capitalist system.
This is a sickening process to watch unfold, particularly when it targets our own friends and comrades.
But we must not lose sight of the fact that it only happening because that system is afraid – afraid that its lies are being exposed, that its true nature is becoming obvious and that before long the cracks that are currently appearing will spread further, join up and finally destroy it.
An Israeli drones manufacturer operating in the UK has again been successfully targeted by protesters.
Following previous rooftop occupations of the Instro/Elbit factory in Kent (see Acorn 2 and Acorn 12), this time protesters headed for the disused Manston Airport, where the weapon parts firm was seeking planning permission to open a new unit.
Says a first-hand report of the October 21 action: “Previous occupations at Instro have begun under cover of darkness, but this was different. At around noon, cars pulled up at the gate, protesters leapt out, got a ladder up against the gate and began climbing over into the compound.
“Met by a security guard with a barking dog, three of the four made it, scaled the fire escape and occupied the roof, having to leave behind a huge banner but successfully taking their tent (it was a wet and windy day) and pitching it on the roof. Outside the gate, two more locked on and the rest of the team hung banners and placards and spoke to the press.
“The missing roof banner felt like a bit of a let-down, so a particular highlight of the day was the police and security guards later falling for a classic decoy ploy: while a distraction was created on one side of the perimeter, another protester got over the fence on the opposite side and made a dash for it, successfully delivering the banner – which could be seen for a long way – and leaving police and ‘security’ very red-faced.
“The site was occupied for the rest of the working day, police were called and floodlights were hired to be shone onto the control tower. Once again there was good local media coverage in which the demonstrators’ arguments were very clearly put and not distorted.
“Once again, though, no arrests were made yesterday despite the clear potential for charges of aggravated trespass. This is extraordinary, and we have to ask: why does Instro not want to press charges? What does it NOT want to emerge if there is a court case?
“Any activist prosecuted would take the defence that they were preventing a greater crime from being committed, and in their defence they would ask for details of Instro’s export licences to be made available. Is this what Instro is seeking to conceal? And why are the police repeatedly choosing to not press charges?
“Later that evening was the crunch vote at Thanet District Council, and to our relief and joy, Instro’s application to move to Manston was turned down by councillors – a huge success”.
There is a video report here and local media reports here and here.
What is Elbit scared of?
UK anarchists pull off cheeky repeat factory occupation
Bristol’s Kebele Social Centre is currently celebrating its 20th birthday with a month of “stuff”.
In what it describes as “true anarchic style”, the Novemberfest at 14 Robertson Road, Easton BS5 6JY, actually runs through to the first week of December.
A packed programme includes an evening of Songs and Stories of the Spanish Revolution on Friday November 13, a session on What’s Happening at COP21 on Thursday November 17, and Until All are Free, a workshop exploring the links between human and non-human prisons, on Thursday November 19.
Then on Saturday November 28 and Sunday 29, the Kebele will be hosting the UK Social Centres network meeting. This event currently occurs twice a year, and is for all those involved in social centres (or aiming to set one up soon) around the UK.
Since 1995, the Kebele has provided space for the development of radical ideas and activities, community campaigns, and international solidarity.
Kebele means “community place” in Amharic, an Ethiopian language. The term refers to community institutions, which dealt with their own needs & concerns, such as justice, health and community democracy.
During the revolution in Grenada in 1979, Rastafarians involved in the struggle used the term “kebele” to refer to the community centres in each neighbourhood from which, in theory at least, the revolution was based. In 1983, the USA invaded the tiny island of Grenada to crush the rebellion.
The Kebele Centre in Bristol proudly declares that it is “based on anarchist principles of opposing all forms of authority, and organising collectively without leaders”.
The Anarchist Action Network is to start planning another of its “Anarchist Travelling Circuses” with a public meeting in Nottingham on Sunday November 22.
The gathering will run from 12 noon to 4pm at the Sumac Centre, 245 Gladstone Street, Nottingham NG7 6HX.
Says the call-out: “The Anarchist Action Network is an autonomous network made up of local groups and individuals from the anarchist movement based in the UK.
“We came together after the 2013 G8 summit to help re-build an anarchist network for the UK and take action together against capitalism and other oppressive elements in society.
“The network meets once a month, in a different town or city, to make decisions by consensus about principles and strategy. We have adopted the PGA hallmarks and have other principles that define us.
“We organised two ‘Anarchist Travelling Circuses’, in Newport, South Wales and East London, as well as numerous other events, demonstrations and weeks of action, and we now plan to organise a third A.T.C. and make other plans for the network in the months ahead. We’d like to welcome you (except cops and journos) to be a part of this”.
On its website, the AAN stresses its commitment to a diversity of tactics: “We aim to show solidarity with everyone who is fighting against capitalism, and whose actions are in line with our general principles, whatever tactics they choose. For example, we will not stop supporting people just because their actions are labeled as ‘criminal’ or ‘violent’ by state authorities. Or, on the other hand, because they are accused of not going far enough”.
French corporate media are already in xenophobic propaganda mode ahead of the protests against the COP21 climate summit in Paris from November 28 to December 12 (see call-out in Acorn 16). The RTL website reported on November 5 that security services fear “a foreign threat with the possible involvement of foreign activists like the famous German Black Blocs or for that matter English groups”. This was the justification for stricter border controls over the next month which, according to France Info, will target “possible terrorists but also violent anarchist groups like the Black Blocs”.
* * *
A Mexican anti-industrial group called the Pagan Sect of the Mountain has claimed responsibility for explosive attacks on nine buses near the capital on October 30, saying that the action was “continuing the fiercest conflict inherited from our ancestors against progress and artificiality”. Added their statement: “Cities grow exponentially, devouring mountains and wilderness areas, urban sprawl disturbingly covers the territories of coyotes, deer, hawks; usurping their habitat, resigning to a life in captivity and reducing wildlife to miserable ‘natural ecological reserves’. The result of all this forced extinction and devastation is us, and our actions in defense of all the wild”.
* * *
Anti-roads campaigners in Sussex, UK, have produced a report exploding the absurd claim by the road lobby that a new A27 Arundel bypass (see Acorn 1) would be good for the South Downs National Park by taking traffic off local roads. They point out that building new roads causes more traffic congestion and reveal that Highways England has now admitted that it failed to take this crucial factor of “induced traffic” into account in its A27 studies. See the A27 Arundel Bypass Neighbourhood Committee site at www.arundelbypass.co.uk
* * *
An online Degrowth Library has been launched by. The regularly-updated multilingual resource covers a wide range of themes, including activism, animal rights, biodiversity, permaculture, social movements, veganism, feminism, infrastructure, spirituality and technology. Go to: http://www.degrowth.de/en/media-library/
* * *
A list of companies which supply weapons and equipment to the murderous Turkish police has been published by Corporate Watch UK. The researchers say: “Hundreds of people have been killed by the Turkish police and military in north Kurdistan since Turkey’s general election in June. While people around the world watch the actions of the Turkish police force with horror, military companies are cashing in”.
* * *
Construction machinery at the open-cast mine Hambach, Germany, was sabotaged on the night of Monday October 26 in an attack against the industrial capitalist businesses who “are destroying the basis of life on this planet”. Says a report on the Earth First! site: “Five diggers, two bulldozers, one road roller and one other expensive-looking machine had their hydraulics and electronic cables cut. the fuel and oil tanks were filled with sand, some mechanic parts damaged and all the windows were smashed. Despite the massive security-measures RWE and the police put up against us, it was still really easy to do serious damage to these tools of destruction.”
* * *
Acorn quote: “The first duty of the revolution will be to make a bonfire of all existing laws as it will of all titles to property”.
Peter Kropotkin, Law and Authority
(For many more like this, see the Winter Oak quotes for the day blog)
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The Acorn 16
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