- Summer of rebellion ahead!
- English resistance to fracking
- Mayday in Milano
- Fighting the power
- Action Camp and Climate Games in Netherlands
- Degrowth Summer School
- Rhineland disobedience
- Earth First! Summer Gathering
- Books celebrate nature mystic
The revolt against the destructive infrastructure of industrial capitalism will be hotting up all over the place this summer, sending a message to the neoliberal elite that they will not necessarily have it all their own way for ever.
As the disastrous consequences of industrial society become all the more apparent, the complicity of governments increasingly blatant and the greenwashing attempts of global business more and more ridiculous, resistance is inevitably strengthening.
From radical anti-capitalists on the streets of Milan to anti-frackers in the Basque Country, from climate protesters in Germany to anti-roads activists in England, the struggle is one.
Our look (below) at just a few of the things that will be happening in the coming months shows a gathering momentum and a growing understanding that capitalism and industrialism are all the same thing.
The pernicious effects of pollution and environmental damage cannot be separated from the pernicious effects of the exploitation and degradation of human beings.
This so-called capitalist civilization is nothing but a death-machine, converting the living flesh of our planet into the waste products of profit. For the sake of everyone’s future, we must fight together to consign it to the past.
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The resistance against fracking in southern England – which hit the headlines with the Balcombe protests in 2013 – is looking set to intensify in the next few months.
The global oil industry effectively declared its intent to sacrifice the countryside on the altar of profit with its boastful announcement, reported in The Guardian on April 9, that it had found 100bn barrels of oil underground at Horse Hill on the Sussex-Surrey border near Horley.
Steven Sanderson, chief executive of UK Oil and Gas Investments gloated: “Based on what we’ve found here, we’re looking at between 50 and 100bn barrels of oil in place in the ground. We believe we can recover between 5% and 15% of the oil in the ground, which by 2030 could mean that we produce 10% to 30% of the UK’s oil demand from within the Weald area”.
There was an immediate response from a broad range of environmentalists. Greenpeace UK chief scientist Dr Doug Parr said: “To gleefully rub your hands at a new fossil fuel discovery you need to turn the clock back to the 19th century and ignore everything we have learnt about climate change since. We already have more than enough coal, oil, and gas reserves to fry the planet. Dotting the English countryside with drilling rigs and pipelines to squeeze the last drop of oil out of Britain doesn’t make any sense.”
And Brenda Pollack, Friends of the Earth South East campaigner warned: “Any firm proposing to drill for oil in the region knows it will face huge opposition – as happened at Balcombe, Fernhurst and Wisborough Green.”
It may be significant that working with UK Oil and Gas Investments at Horse Hill is American firm Magellan Petroleum. The US giant is also partnering fracking firm Celtique at Billingshurst, a few miles away across the Sussex Weald, where the razor wire is up and ready for imminent drilling, as we reported in Acorn 2.
With Balcombe itself not yet safe from fracking, the southern English countryside is thus braced for a new assault. Despite the constant rumours about the poor financial state of the fracking industry, the British state continues to do all it can to try to impose fracking by force if necessary – see our report in Acorn 6.
The absurd talk from fracking industry propagandist Ken Cronin of UK Onshore Oil and Gas about “great care for the environment” and “no impact on local communities” is showed up for what it is by a new documentary film being screened in Sussex this month.
Voices from The Gasfields, a bang up-to-date report, talks to residents in Australia affected by the massive amount of fracking that has been allowed by complicit authorities to ruin the landscape, pollute the water supplies and taint the air.
What was once unspoilt bush has been turned into an industrial wasteland, cleared of vegetation, crossed by pipelines, littered with abandoned oil wells. Vegetables gardens have withered away, wildlife is dying, people’s health is suffering and the fracking industry silences news of what is happening with “confidentiality” agreements when it has to pay out for the damage that it admits it has caused.
Of course, the film is not just about what has already happened in Australia. It is about what will happen elsewhere, including England, if the fracking business is allowed to get its way. As residents recall, when describing the nightmare devastation covering one area the size of England – “it all started with one well”.
The threat is clear and activists are ready to respond.
Voices from the Gasfields is being shown by Frack Free Sussex at All Saints Church Hall, The Drive, Hove BN3 3GE from 7pm on Sunday April 26 – free entry.
International anti-capitalist protest, Milan, Italy, Friday May 1
Six weeks after the massive protests against the opening of the European Central Bank HQ in Frankfurt (see Acorn 5), European anti-capitalists will be gathering again, this time in Italy, to take on another major showcase of European neoliberalism.
The mobilisation on Friday May 1 is being billed as “a joyful angry international demonstration through the centre of Milan” and starts at 2pm at Piazza XXIV Maggio on the south side of the city centre.
It is focused on the opening day of Expo 2015, an extravagant six-month “world fair” celebrating the corporate wealth built on the exploitation of workers and the destruction of the environment.
The expo site, to the north-west of the city centre, covers 272 acres and is expected to attract 29 million visitors from the opening day until the end of October.
The self-congratulatory capitalism of Expo 2015 is bad enough in itself but, to add insult to injury, it is trying to pretend it is some kind of environmental showcase.
Its phoney theme of “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” is of course nothing but a deceitful piece of greenwash hiding the usual industrial-capitalist agenda, as a closer look at its site quickly reveals.
The section about its corporate “partners” boasts that “Expo Milano 2015 offers a unique business opportunity”.
One of the “corporate pavilions” at the Expo will be from Coca-Cola, whose sickly spin, as unpalatable as its drinks, declares: “Coca-Cola is working to embed sustainability-minded innovations at global and local level, into every aspect of its business, from sourcing ingredients to increasing beverage options to aspiring to be water neutral and recovering packaging”.
Coca-Cola claims that it enables “economic empowerment of women” and visitors to its propaganda-zone will learn all about its “efforts to enhance personal well-being, offering low or no-calories beverage options in every market” as well as about its proud record of “protecting the environment”.
Another pavilion comes from New Holland Agriculture (a brand of CNH Global NV) which “takes the opportunity to show how a world leader of agricultural mechanisation interprets the present and prepares for the future of farming”.
Also present is Vanke, “Chinese giant and leader in real estate” which has been at the forefront of the glorious “development” of China by the global industrial system. Its fine environmental record involves notching up than 60,000 homes a year. Its own website boasts: “In 2012, sales exceeded RMB 140 billion, once again the largest in the global real estate industry.”
The description of Vanke’s pavilion at Expo 2015 belongs firmly in the world of satire: “Visitors are immersed in a forest of poles, with screens which project scenes of lunches, joy, and sharing. The installation, based on the metaphor of roots, trunks and branches symbolizes Vanke’s commitment to the community, which lives among the mutual relationships of people, values and traditions.”
* Many of the same protesters will be joining a huge march against fascism through the northern Italian city two days earlier, on Wednesday April 29.
Reclaim the Power, Oxfordshire, England, May 29 – June 2
Reclaim the Power is holding a direct action camp near Didcot Power Station (Oxfordshire) as part of a global day of action, ahead of the UN climate talks (COP21) in December 2015.
Power stations like Didcot emit the same CO2 per day as the 20 least polluting countries combined. Although the coal-fired section (Didcot A) was shut down in 2013, and demolished last year because of EU laws limiting emissions, the gas-fired section (Didcot B) is still running today.
Says the RTP website: “While communities around the country have stood together against fracking, our government has been making plans to build a new round of gas-fired power stations, and wants to run them on fracked shale gas!
“And, despite the fact that we need to keep global gas reserves in the ground, if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change, corporate lobbyists are now pushing hard to scrap the EU legislation designed to reduce emissions across Europe! Come and tell them NO WAY and take direct action to shut down the industry. Didcot power station is a half-demolished monument to the unfinished job of kicking out dirty fossil fuels from the UK’s energy mix. Let’s finish the job!”
Aseed Europe action camp, near Amsterdam, Netherlands, July 1-8
An action camp is being organised near Amsterdam by Aseed (Action for Solidarity Environment Equality and Diversity). Says its website: “Our current agriculture system is one of the world’s largest sources of greenhouse gases emission, especially meat production and deforestation. Industrial agriculture is addicted to fossil fuels and soil erosion and depletion increase the effects of climate change.
“In order to fulfill one of our most basic need in the long term, food production must become sustainable. The action camp will help the participants to focus on this goal and to make local, sustainable food production more widespread.”
The second edition of the Climate Games will be happening on July 4th in the same area, with the aim of “playing around some of the major polluters in Amsterdam’s port”.
International anti-fracking camp, Euskal Herria, July 13-19
The Frackanpada is an international protest camp against fracking that will take place this summer in Euskal Herria (Basque Country), called by the local movement against fracking (Fracking Ez) and with the support of a committed team of people based in different European countries.
Says the website: “There are various objectives. The first one is to bring together the people currently fighting and those interested to join the struggle against fracking in different places, to share experiences and exchange practices. It aims also to be a meeting place between struggles against fracking and those other related to the defence of the land and others such as against austerity and for a just and sustainable society…”
Degrowth Summer School, Germany, August 9-14
The Degrowth Summer School will take place in the Rhineland lignite-mining area in the run-up to the Climate Camp (below). Says the website: “We want to reveal the necessity for a radical economic and societal change of our energy- and resource-intensive lifestyles and discuss concrete solutions and alternatives.”
Climate Camp in Germany – mass civil disobedience, August 14-16
The group says: “In a big colourful action of civil disobedience we will obstruct the exploitation of lignite (soft coal) with many hundreds of people. Thus we will resist one of the crucial root causes of climate change. We will use a variety of actions, about which we will communicate in an open and reliable way. Let’s make the Rhineland the focal point of a strong and powerful anti-coal-movement!”
Earth First! Summer gathering, Peak District, England, August 19-24
The gathering is billed as “five days of skills sharing for grassroots ecological action” revolving around the struggle against fracking, new roads and lots more, with a particular emphasis on community-based campaigns.
It is “a chance for people and groups from across the country and beyond to get together to network, share practical skills, ideas and inspirations to help our actions and campaigns be as strategic and effective as possible “.
Two classic books celebrating a visionary English nature writer have been published in new editions by Winter Oak.
As a companion piece to Richard Jefferies’ 1883 book The Story of My Heart: My Autobiography, there is a fascinating analysis of Jefferies’ work by another neglected genius of the Victorian age.
Henry S. Salt’s 1894 study Richard Jefferies: His Life and His Ideals, sparked some controversy at the time as Salt – a campaigner for animal rights, vegetarianism and socialism – used it to claim Jefferies for one of his own, highlighting the social radicalism and nature-based spirituality that increasingly marked his subject’s later writing.
With wit and erudition he demolishes the conservative Victorian presentation of Jefferies as a mere chronicler of traditional country life and reveals him as a flawed yet inspirational figure whose best works were “unsurpassed as prose poems by anything which the English language contains”.
Salt writes of Jefferies: “He was a pagan, a pantheist, a worshipper of earth and sea, and of the great sun ‘burning in the heaven’; he yearned for a free, natural, fearless life of physical health and spiritual exaltation, and for a death in harmony with the life that preceded it.”.
This new 2015 edition includes a preface by Paul Cudenec, analysing the connections between the thought of Salt and Jefferies. Cudenec also contributes the preface to The Story of My Heart, Jefferies’ masterpiece of prose-poetry, in which he expresses his sublime yearning not just for connection with nature but for spiritual transcendence. Cudenec, from a contemporary environmentalist viewpoint, explores the significance of Jefferies’ work against a backdrop of disillusionment with industrial civilization and a cultural urge for the regeneration of human society.
For more information go to our books page
International protests are being staged against the ongoing repression of anarchists by the Spanish state (see Acorn 6). On March 30, another 38 people were arrested by police under the banner of “Operation Piñata“, a continuation of the notorious “Operation Pandora”. The raids were carried out amidst a flurry of propaganda making false claims of “terrorist” activities. One solidarity protest is being held in Brighton on Sunday April 12, 6pm at the Clocktower, North Street. “Muerte al estado y viva la anarquia!”
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The Landworkers’ Alliance (LWA) are celebrating Via Campesina’s International day of Peasant Struggle with a “Reclaim Our Food System” protest in Suffolk, England. They say: “This year we are targeting British Sugar PLC to expose the inequality and problems inherent in our industrial food system. Government support of big agri-businesses, like British Sugar PLC, threatens the health of our communities and the quality of our environment”. Meet outside the Bury St Edmunds Railway Station, 1pm on Wednesday April 29. Free coach from London.
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Around 150 people tore down sections of the 8ft-tall spiked fence surrounding the Aylesbury occupation and other blocks of flats on the abandoned South London estate, reports rabble.org.uk. Dramatic video footage of the intensification of this local housing struggle can be seen online. Meanwhile, an anti-gentrification protest is being staged in Brixton, south London, on Saturday April 25 at 12 noon in Coldharbour Lane.
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An excellent new video-poem with a deeply radical message has gone online. Inspired by the tradition of exorcism in Beat poetry, Kali Exorcism deploys text, sound and imagery to invoke the purgative energies of Kali so as to cleanse the world of the military-industrial complex and the state of perpetual warfare that the system requires. The poem also features in a new collection, ECOZOA, by Helen Moore published by Permanent Publications.
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What sort of politicians call for a “new model for development and growth” and can only contemplate a raise in the minimum wage that “can be designed in a manner that is consistent with improvements in competitiveness”? Yep, it’s those radical leftists from Syriza, now governing Greece – the quotes come directly from a recent document outlining their proposed reforms.
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“The radical environmental movement is stuck in a rut, trapped within a space of increasing contradictions as leftist groups and large NGOs try to manage dissent”. That’s the provocative statement made in an article, which can be read online, from Black Seed, the US green anarchist publication. Issue 3 is soon due out in print.
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Reclaim the Beats – join the Fuck Parade! This is the Mayday invitation from the London anarchists of Class War, who promise at 12V multi rig street party at 1 Commercial Street, London, from 6pm on Friday May 1.
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The next national meeting of the Anarchist Action Network will be on Saturday April 18, from 12 noon to 5pm, at Freedom Bookshop, Angel Alley, 84b Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX. Email [email protected] for more info.
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Acorn quote: “From earth and sea and sun, from night, the stars, from day, the trees, the hills, from my own soul – from these I think”. Richard Jefferies, The Story of My Heart
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